Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or just looking for a new house, something is exciting about imagining yourself in a new place. You search online for the perfect home and find a few you like. You contact a real estate agent and you can’t wait to start going on inspection. You also call your wife (or husband as the case may be) and family and show the pictures of the homes you have started considering.
The truth is buying a home can be one of life’s most stressful events, especially in today’s competitive housing market. While there is no way to make it a completely anxiety-free event, there are things you can do during the house hunting and buying process that will minimize your stress.
- Determine Your Priorities Before you even start looking for a home, you need to ask yourself, what are my priorities? This might be the single most important question you might ask yourself in your house search. What are the deal-breakers that will hinder you from purchasing a dream home even if it meets your other criteria? This could be the number of bedrooms in the house, the parking space available, the proximity to your work or place of worship, whether it’s a fully detached, semi-detached or a terrace or even a flat. You name it.Chances are that when you go on an inspection with your agent, you get very confused after seeing numerous “fine houses” and then you are stuck in a rut and cannot decide. You need to set your priorities clear to avoid being in such conditions.
- Know Your Maximum Budget LimitThis might sound quite cliché but from my experience, most home buyers go house hunting and set an unrealistic low budget for the kind of property they want to purchase. I discover that such individuals are not in touch in current prices of property in Lagos and they leave inspection thinking that property is overpriced.Have you once thought that your maximum limit on your house should be as high as possible so you can get the best possible house you can live in? This is like a marriage, you are going to spend a significant part of your life here, why not get the best you can get.
- Do Your ResearchThere are lots of properties in Nigeria that don’t have titles. Developers buy land that doesn’t have good titles and sell such houses to you. Or in some cases, lands that are in dispute between family members or even the government are acquired and built on and sold to unsuspecting buyers. What happens, in the end, is that the new buyer will now have a series of court cases or will be required to pay lots of money to hold on to his house.This is a very uncomfortable situation to find yourself in. You MUST engage a qualified lawyer to do a proper search on your house to know the history of the ownership of the land to avoid stories that touch. Ensure that your land/house has a Certificate of Occupancy and Governor’s Consent at the very least before you pull the trigger. Details of the history of the land can be found at the Ministry of Lands in Alausa.
- 4. Hire A Professional Agent And Get Personal With HimNowadays, it is very common for Nigerian agents to increase the price of a property and communicate a higher cost of the property to the buyer. This is commonly known as “loading.” The agent will also make additional money from you by charging you an agency fee on top of this already inflated cost.My advice to prospective buyers is to “get personal” with your agent by making them your friend and telling them to be open with you on the real cost of the house. Negotiate your agency fee early enough in the transaction to gain their confidence. If your agent is happy and he is a professional, you will be assured that he will give you good deals subsequently in the future. Also, request to meet with the owner of the house so you can get the last price he is willing to sell.
- 5. Do Your Search OnlineThe real estate industry is now a very competitive space in Lagos and you can always get the home of your dreams by looking well enough on the internet. Sites like privateproperty.com and nigerianpropertycenter.com are good places to do your house search before you go on inspection. You should do the points I have listed above too as well so that you don’t get yourself into an issue.
- Do Your Search Offline TooThere are many properties around you. The challenge is that you have not taken out time to look properly. What do you do on your Saturday mornings? You can take a drive around your desired neighborhood and you will see a lot of houses waiting for you to occupy. Do your due diligence with your lawyer and agent and ensure these houses are genuine and secure.
- Keep An Open MindSometimes even after drawing out a list of priorities, you find that you can’t just see the perfect house you have in mind. That’s why I suggest you keep an open mind. For instance, you might want a duplex where the master’s bedroom is on the first floor, not the second floor to reduce staircase time or the perfect house for you is not in an estate and you are a bit worried about security and all. You should have a more detailed list of what is important for you and know when to compromise in a way that it is still a win for you.
- Make An Offer And Hope For The Best
Now you have seen the house of your dreams, you also want to ensure you can get a good bargain for the house. I always believe that there is always room for further negotiation with house sellers because you are parting away with a chunk of money. You want to ensure you are getting the best deal. The cash savings can be used to prepare the house documentation in your name or can even be used to acquire another piece of furniture.Your agent or realtor should prepare an offer letter on your behalf and submit to the owner of the house. Your agent also must negotiate further with the owner. The seller of the house will also respond to your letter officially as well, so there is a trail of the negotiation. You have to hope for the best and believe things will go your way. And if it doesn’t, the features of the house should justify the price and your mind should be at peace with the money you are parting with. This is very key.