My Experience: How You Too Can Start a Real Estate Business With Little Or No Money

real estate business

The thing about starting real estate business is that it can turn you to an overnight billionaire. Make no mistake, there are lots of money to be made in different aspect of real estate investment in Nigeria.

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Real Estate is very wide with many branches. Now, how do we enter into a real estate business investment as young startups with no huge resources to buy a property? I’ll talk on two aspects and share some of my experience in the past few years.

Number 1 is the most popular: Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agents

A real estate agent – some call it Real Estate Broker or Realtor – acts as an intermediary between sellers and buyers of real estate property. He/She attempts to find sellers who wish to sell and buyers who wish to buy. A real estate agent typically receives payment called a commission for successfully matching a seller’s real estate with a buyer such that a sale is made.

This commission is usually shared with other participating real estate brokers or agents when applicable. The most common rate in Nigeria is 10% commission on the deal. Say you do a deal of 150 million, you have 15 million as commission.

How do Real Estate Agents operate?

‪Upon signing a listing contract with the seller wishing to sell the real estate, the agent attempts to earn a commission by finding a buyer for the sellers’ property at the highest possible price on the best terms for the seller. To help carry out the goal of finding buyers, a real estate agency commonly does the following:

  1. Lists the property for sale to the public: this is done using different methods such as fliers, banners, public notices, etc. The most common now is the use of internet,  by far the cheapest and easiest, but has its own many downs.
  2. Places a “For Sale” or “For Lease” sign on the property indicating how to contact the real estate office and agent. ‪
  3. Advertises the property, which may include social media and digital marketing in addition to paper advertising etc. ‪
  4. Serves as a contact available to answer any questions about the property and schedule showing of property known as Inspection.
  5. Negotiates price on behalf of the seller.
  6. Ensures that buyers are pre-screened and financially qualified to buy the property. This is very important because we have a lot of players and time wasters in the industry. Let me share an experience. Although I’m not fully involved as a real estate agent, I do venture once in a while when I have a request.

I got a request from an agent recently about a property for sale in Banana Island. He needed a detached duplex with swimming pool and fantastic finishing, so I quickly made some calls to some high-profile realtors whom I believed had such property in their care. I didn’t border to do a check on the buyer because the agent is someone I trust. It was while we went for inspection I discovered they were some jobless agents looking for property they could advertise. It was so painful and name souring. So buyers’ check is very important.

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Two skills you must have to succeed in this line of business: you must be a good networker because you do would need to find both buyers and sellers. And you must be able to use the internet well, I don’t mean just knowing how to browse, you must know how to shovel out good, right and genuine information.

The second aspect of real estate business I would like to talk about is one I’m directly involved in. I believe many will have an eye opener with this. It’s where you bring all your entrepreneur skill to play.

Real estate development or Property Development

Real estate developers are the companies who co-ordinate all the activities of converting ideas from paper to real property. Real estate development companies are quite different from construction companies, although many developers also manage the construction process.
Developers usually take the greatest risk in the creation or renovation of property and receive the greatest rewards.

Typically, developers

  1. Purchase a tract of land
  2. Determine the marketing strategy of the property
  3. Develop the building program and design
  4. Obtain the necessary public approval and financing
  5. Build the structures, and rent out, manage, and ultimately sell it.

Sometimes property developers will only undertake part of the process. For example, some developers source a property, get the plans and permits approved, and then sell the property with the plans and permits to a builder at a premium price.

Alternatively, a developer that is also a builder may buy a property (land or dilapidated building), get all necessary plans and permits in place and start construction on the development immediately.

Developers work with many counterparts along each step of this process, including architects, engineers, surveyors, inspectors, contractors, lawyers, accountants, business developers, leasing agents and many more. This shows that real estate business is one of the huge employers of labor.

The whole process of real estate development seems very capital-intensive. How does one go about it with limited capital? This is how I did it.

How I entered real estate business with little capital

I started by registering my company with the CAC as a real estate development and construction company. I was looking for a way about it, so I got a team of friends together: civil engineer, architect, lawyer, quantity surveyor, business administrator and myself, a mechanical engineer with project management and banking experience.

I explained the vision to them, but not all of them believed in it until we got an investor who was willing to invest some millions in real estate. We went to inspect a land to buy and start development in Lekki. The agent who took us there had a ready-to-fly proposal for the development. It included all architectural drawings, bill of quantity, market projections and many more.

Immediately, he offered to sell the proposal for 20million to our astonishment and bitter disappointment because the investor (whom we sourced and took there) was ready to work with the guy and ditch us. You see, I didn’t cry over it but I learned from that experience.

When preparation meet with opportunities, then success is guaranteed.

‪I let go of all my friends except the lawyer because they couldn’t see what I was seeing. I still didn’t have enough funds to hire professionals at the time so God gave me another way to go about it.

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It started on a WhatsApp group I joined. I introduced myself as a startup in property development and I was made to know there was another person who was into real estate development in the forum. I saw an opportunity to work together and I immediately put a call through to him and we started to share ideas.

He is based in Abuja; I had just moved down to Lagos from Abuja and we agreed to partner. He already had a complete team of professionals working for him and a foreign partner and investor whom he was still in talks with. So I told him I would pull up good deals out of Lagos and he would work from Abuja preparing the proposal and connecting with the investor.

We stated clearly what our individual contributions would be and how we would share the work and proceeds. All these we did online; I never met him in person until I finished some deals and he flew down here to sign the MOU (Memorandum of understanding). We have since been working together in understand to the Glory of God.

Now to round it up I will tell you how I played my part of the partnership deal. ‪ Part of my contribution was to provide land that we could develop into estate, market, mall etc. What I did was to look for land good for development in a good site and meet with the owners to go into a JV (joint venture).

What is Joint Venture in real estate?

It is a practice where a land owner provides his land as equity and a developer/investor provides capital and both parties come together as joint partners to setup an estate. It is by far the best Real Estate practice that has put huge money into the pocket of Land owners and Developers as well.

A real estate Joint venture could be said to be the marriage between the Land owner and a Real Estate Developer/Investor coming in agreement to setup an estate development in developed and under developed cities.

The investor agrees to finance the construction of an agreed project, usually units of houses which include duplex, Terraces, Block of Flats, Bungalows etc., rather than pay the owner outright for the value of the land. Upon completion of the project, the investor pays the Land owner from the sales revenues and keeps the remaining as profit as agreed in the Joint venture agreement.

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Let me draw the curtain here. I hope you have learnt a thing or two. You don’t need the no-money excuse; get out there and go make some money! Blessings.

Oluwatobi Oladele
Oluwatobi Oladele (+234 807 147 9557) is the Managing Director of FIPS Multilinks Limited, a registered and fast growing real estate development, construction, project management, and facility management company in Nigeria. FIPS Multilinks Limited with Partners has successfully managed various properties and executed a number of real estate development across Nigeria.


  1. Wow!
    What a fantastic post! This is really eye-opening. I have always had interest in real estate but finance has always been the issue.
    Now that I have read this, I will get myself prepared for it. I have always heard people say you don’t need money to go into real estate but I hardly hear how it can be done.

    Thanks Oluwatobi for sharing your story. I love it!

  2. This is a very good article. I really enjoy it. sorry I got a line at the bottom of it, is it the same man digit. more grease to your elbow

  3. Oluwatobi, thanks i have 40 plots around Lekki Free Trade Zone, Can we work on it together? you can email me or call me on 08055555133

  4. Thanks for sharing these very practical and vital Infos.I’m just about cutting my teeth on Reeal estate Biz Again, thanks

  5. A writeup that will open the world of many to real estate biz without capital, as many belief real estate is capital intesive only
    do you accept guest posting?

  6. This article is so useful. I have an interest in becoming a realtor. I have a land in a very suitable place in Ikotun area. but i did not have the money right now to build it. How did you think i can go about it?

  7. Thank you very much for this piece of article. It has really helped me to understand and appreciate how real estate business works. I have already applied to CAC for my company registration and I’m willing to go all out for this as I have had a passion for it. This article is certainly the right place to start.


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