‘We don’t have dedicated financial institution for real estate’

Mrs. Lizzy Ifeoma Charles Nwagbara

Mrs. Lizzy Ifeoma Charles Nwagbara is a renowned real estate player. She is also a barrister, solicitor, and also holds the title ‘Iyani wura of Egbaland’. In this chat, she talks about her life in real estate and others. Gregory Austin Nwakunor writes.

Who is Chief (Mrs.) Lizzy Ifeoma Charles Nwagbara and how did you find yourself in real estate business?
I’M a legal practitioner. I have been in practice since 1988 when I completed my compulsory national service. I read Law at the University of Lagos. My area of practice is basically real estate and family law. Those are the areas I have handled many cases, but my practice is not restricted to just that. I also do general practice. I do arbitration and other matters,” she says.

She adds, “I have always desired to be a success story from childhood. My reading law was to fulfill a childhood dream. The truth is that I couldn’t have read anything apart from law. I pray to God so that I can get to the peak of my law profession.”

Nwagbara is the Iya ni wura of Egbaland. She says the chieftaincy title came to her in a strange manner because when Alake of Egbaland decided to honour her in 2013 as Iya ni wura of Egbaland, during his 70th birthday, it was something she couldn’t explain. “It would remain indelible in my life. I can’t really explain it, but I will continually be grateful to him, to the palace chiefs who found me worthy of being so honoured. I have a few chieftaincy titles that I am yet to honour. When they call me, I tell them the one I have is okay for me, because this one is coming from a place where I can’t fluently speak the language and is also coming from Egbaland.”

The focus for Nwagbara seems to be more on real estate. How did she come about this?
“I just felt comfortable within that circle (real estate), but you might say maybe it generates huge money, it might be so, but I wanted a platform where I could be myself, and will not be pushed around. So, I found real estate platform very convenient,” she notes.

Nwagbara reveals, “I cover virtually every area, but I handle transactions between buyer and seller, I do leases, I do land title agreement, but I have not gone into construction fully. I however, have a very deep knowledge of construction, but because I still want to restrict myself within my professional area, you and I know that, no sale of property would not involve a lawyer, anywhere in the world. Where will always be a lawyer in it. Also, the drafting of leases agreement and all related issues concerning real estate, lawyers are also involved.”

How does she see herself in the real estate business, which many women hardly venture in?
“Yes, it’s really challenging, I can tell you that. For a woman to do well in real estate, you have to make up your mind on whatever you do. I made up my mind that I will be a success story. Women are not usually given the chance/time to succeed. As for me, I was very aware of that, that a woman needs to work twice as hard as a man if she must succeed in anything she does,” the lady, who is the Chairman of Magnificent Properties Limited, a real estate firm and Lizzy Ibinye & Co, a legal outfit, says.

She believes that real estate in Nigeria is developing. “You know it wasn’t like this before. Many of us when we travel out, we see how all of these things are been packaged. The only unfortunate thing is that, we don’t have a dedicated financial institution. Before, we used to have Federal Mortgage Bank and it was effective in the 70s or 80s. But in this modern time, I can’t really explain why the bank is nowhere to be found that is why many people are having challenges. That is why real estate in Nigeria is like a cash-and-carry business. It shouldn’t be so. In oversea, someone can buy a property of 200 thousand dollars by depositing only 10,000 dollars, so it helps society. The real estate business in Nigeria has not really considered the masses at all. There is no government structure to take care of those who want to invest in real estate. It has been a cash-and-carry something and it is very stressful,” she quips.

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