One of the biggest dreams of every Nigerian is to be able to buy a house in Lagos.
This is critical in an economy where mortgages are not usually prevalent and you have to pay cash if you want to purchase a house.
While the process of buying a house in Lagos is thrilling, it can also be frightening because of the stress, and the high rate of fraud and other real estate-related crimes.
Here are some of the most critical steps to take when buying a house in Lagos.
This is to make sure you are not swindled out of your hard-earned money, and that you get good value for your money.
1. Consult professionals or experts if you are not one yourself.
It is alright to have a good idea of what it is like to buy a house in Lagos, but that is not enough.
If you are not a professional in Real Estate, you better leave it to the professionals.
They are in a better position to help you make sound decisions, to objectively inspect and report about houses, and to advise you to make better buying decisions.
They also help make sure you save time and energy because they know where to get what you want at a fair price.
2. Inspect the property physically
Never buy until you see what you are paying for.
Pictures and videos are cool; however, you need to be on the ground to physically inspect the property before making the payment.
This helps you to reduce the risk of fraud and to confirm the state and worth of the house.
As much as possible, this part of the deal should not be delegated; spare a few minutes to see what you will be paying for.
3. Ask for the building plan approval
Without a valid building plan approval, there shouldn’t be a deal.
This document should have been in place before construction commenced in the first place; the inability to tender this document makes the house illegal.
It is supposed to show you and anyone concerned that the building complies with local and international building regulations.
Not seeing this document even when you ask for it is a major red flag when you want to buy a house in Lagos.
It is either you are shown (or given) the valid building plan approval or you walk.
4. Investigate the property title and documents
When it comes to real estate, you cannot do business based on trust or some form of familial relationships, biological or otherwise.
Before making payments (of any kind), obtain copies of the property documents and verify them by going to the different registries where the documents were obtained.
No matter how real it looks, make sure you can trace them to the right sources to avoid scams.
The power of real estate is in the property titles and documents; the more solid, the better.
5. Do local intel before you buy a house in Lagos
When it comes to due diligence in buying a property, nothing beats local intel.
There is always one or two people in the neighborhood who can tell you a lot about the house, its owner, its real condition, and any controversies around it.
Get your boots on the ground and make your findings.
Also, you need to know about the community, their water, the nature of their power supply, and security.
Never underestimate what you can learn by asking around the neighborhood.
6. Know the full financial implications of the Lagos House
Know the other charges involved aside from cost of the house e.g., survey, legal, agency fees, etc so you are not caught unaware.
Most houses require some form of maintenance or repairs for it to be fit for living.
This is usually as a result of the usual damages over the years, a lack of proper maintenance over the years, or neglect within the period the house is on the market; whatever the case may be, you need to know the extent of repairs needed before making a buying decision.
Never underestimate extra charges, commissions, and agreement fees for agents, realtor, and brokers; this usually cost at least 20% of closing price.
The asking price may be fair, however, the total price includes everything you will need to pay before the house is in peak condition for use, rent, or resale.
7. Negotiate – Do your best to get a good deal
When it comes to buying a house, the first rule is to never pay the asking price no matter how fair it seems.
Even when you are working with a professional, never leave the whole negotiation to your agent; they (the realtor and your agent) often know each other and may not be fair to you (the outsider).
Apart from the closing price that you need to contend with, there are other items that you need to place on the negotiation table, this includes agent fees; cost of repairs and maintenance; flexibility of payment; discounts, promos, and referral fees.
Negotiation doesn’t just get you a better deal, it keeps the agents and realtors from messing with you by inflating prices, or hiding money details because it shows you to be streetwise enough to haggle price and close deals in your favour.
8. Make payments when all the right boxes are ticked
The house is still considered to be on the market until you make the minimum financial commitment to be considered the new owner of the property.
Once you are sure that the house and its value have checked all necessary boxes, it is time to make the payment.
While you shouldn’t rush into any property deals, you should not drag your decision unnecessarily.
If you are sure you want it and you can afford it, then ahead to make the payment.
9. Collect ALL the right documents when you buy a house in Lagos
When you buy a house in Lagos, you do not have the house yet if you do not have the right documents to back your ownership.
Until all relevant documents are delivered, the house is still on the market; and its ownership can be contended by the bearer of the right documents.
Demand for and secure the original documents at the point of confirmation of payment.
This is better done using escrow services or a third party that can serve as a witness to the transaction (usually for a fee).
10. Perfect your title on the property
This is the last part of successfully buying a house in Lagos.
It involves obtaining the officially stamped deed of transfer from the state government.
Although the process differs for different states, you will apply to the Lands Registry and the Office of the Surveyor-General for Lagos.
The process of perfecting your title on a property is better done with the assistance of a professional.
While the process will cost some money, you must be considered the rightful owner of the property beyond any reasonable doubt.