Ultimate Guide To Buying a House in Nigeria

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Top Property Buying Tips for the Best Houses in Nigeria

Buying a home in Nigeria is a time-consuming and expensive investment. Therefore, it is important to know what to look for in a home and understand the buying process well, before you settle on a house. Luckily, we understand your concerns as a potential home buyer and we will guide you through the process.

Despite the decline in real estate growth in Nigeria, many people are still buying houses and we can help you to join the list of homeowners in Nigeria.

Real estate growth rate in Nigeria
Real estate growth in Nigeria over three years

 

This article will take you through property buying tips to guide you through quite a number of important things to look into before buying a house.

1. How to raise and save money to buy a house

Set a target

As with any aspiration, it’s always imperative that you have a target you’re aiming for. In this case, it should be the choice of buying a house. What type and size of home do you prefer? What features do you want in your home? What is your ideal home location and what neighbourhood will be best for you? Most importantly how much will it cost? Every aspiring homeowner should consider these as the answers to these questions will help you create a more vivid picture of what you’re aiming at – your dream home.

Start budgeting immediately

It’s necessary to start budgeting and prioritising in order to save money on your home purchase. Now, you know the type of home you want and how much it will cost. It’s time to fund your dream. This may involve making financial sacrifices and cutting out excess spending.

budgeting guidelines
Breakdown of cost of living categories

 

Strategies to save for a house

When you want to save money to buy a house, you must ask yourself very specific questions. These include:

  • How much do you need to save?
  • What percentage of your salary do you need to save?
  • How can you keep track of your expenses?
  • How can you create a budget and monitor it?
  • What are the things you need to sacrifice to enable you to save more?

The idea here is to understand how to save more of your salary.

Consider housing schemes

In the past few years, many housing schemes have sprung up in conjunction with government organisations aimed at aiding more people to access mortgage financing at subsidised interest rates. Some of the housing schemes in Nigeria include the National Housing Fund Scheme (NHF), the Nigerian Housing Finance Programme, Lagos H.O.M.S and the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme.

While you save up for a home, consider researching into available government schemes. Ensure you do a proper research before committing to any scheme. The repayment plan and interest rate should be convenient for you.

Raise money to buy the house through family and friends

This seems like the most unlikely but it does happen for some people. People who care about you realise that you need to live in your own home. They can be instrumental in helping you buy your own home. Perhaps, you’ve saved up half of the money you need, you can approach a family or friend to aid you with the rest, and then you repay over a period of time.

Loans

Most people cringe at the thought of taking loans. But loans may not be all that bad, as long as you take out a loan you can afford to repay. One possible option if you are a civil servant could be the government packages for home acquisition for its workers. Alternatively, you may look into mortgaging.

 

2. Considerations When House Hunting

Price

Everything all boils down to money paid at the end of the process, doesn’t it? After all, without money buying a home wouldn’t even be a blip on your radar. Nevertheless, it’s important to check the pricing of the property you’re about to buy. Regardless of whether the house is a first or second home, it is not a thing to hurry about. Find out about the market. Will the house be somewhat cheaper if you wait six months from now? Will you get the best deal if you buy it now? Ask yourself these questions very carefully and be sure you make very informed decisions.

Location

The location is key when it comes to buying a home, especially when you need it for something specific. Perhaps you’re buying a second home for relaxation purposes, or a place to get away to. It might not be in your best interest to get a house in the city’s interior. That won’t be any different from your first home. A home that overlooks the beach, where the cool sea breeze blows, with minimal noise and soft whispers of nature to soothe your soul. However, should you be buying the house for business purpose, the opposite scenario is optimal.

Projected expenses

Consider the additional expenses that come with buying a home like occupation documentation, maintenance and repair, utility bills, and others. You should have a clear way of meeting these expenses, otherwise, your new dream home will soon start morphing into a nightmare.

If you already have a home and you are getting a second home, you’d be paying double on most bills, charges and in some cases, taxes. Make sure the second home you’re buying doesn’t gulp more than is intended or more than you can afford.

Ensure you consider all expenses (annual, monthly and daily as the case may be) associated with acquiring this new property.

Can you negotiate?

Always try as much as possible to negotiate on set prices in order to ensure you get the best deal. However, some real estate companies may have a no-haggle policy. So, be on the lookout. How do you negotiate? You can look through the house during your inspection and pick out areas you feel will need a bit of work once you move in. For instance, rooms that need a new coat of paint. Once your inspection is complete, present the homeowner or agent with this list and request that they consider lowering the price.

Know what you can afford

Would you prefer the house finishing to be done to your taste by the seller or will you opt for the more affordable option of handling the finishes after moving in? While the latter option is usually more affordable, handling the demands of overseeing repairs and renovations isn’t a task everyone can see through.Ensure you have a scope of what you want, and most importantly, what you can afford as this helps you select the best possible outcome for your chosen property type.

Exercise caution and don’t outbid other buyers

It’s always better when you’re a single buyer checking the property out instead of having another potential buyer in tow. In any case, don’t go into a bidding war unnecessarily, especially where you have a few options in your dream home list. Bid wars usually end up in the value of the property going higher.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into submission to purchase a property. At whatever point you feel you aren’t comfortable with the negotiation, feel free to walk away with a view of taking another look elsewhere.

 

3. Steps to determine the value of a house

Compare home price with other listings in the same area

First, you should research the market price for similar houses in other locations. That way, you can know the value of the house you want to buy. You also get to know how much similar homes in the area are going for. You can compare that with listings in the same location and weigh your options. In case you find it difficult tracking this information, a real estate agent can be of help. Privateproperty.com in Nigeria has an established reputation of seamlessly providing this service.

Get an agent

Real estate agents have very robust data available to them and they are very conversant with current market trends. They can provide a comparative market analysis on the property you want to buy. Agents can also discover information that is not readily available to the public, like, if the house is being foreclosed. So, find an agent who knows the area very well so they can help you dig around.

Condition of the house

Houses that are in excellent condition are usually valued more than other houses within that area. Also, new houses are higher priced than old houses. The physical condition of a house has a profound impact on the house.

Consider the design of the house

What materials are used on the roofing, flooring, walls, and interior fixtures? Is there an additional feature like a garage, a garden or a swimming pool? These are all features that contribute to the ultimate value of a house.

The neighbourhood is more important than you think

Houses located in upscale neighbourhoods are much more expensive than houses in other neighbourhoods. If you are planning on buying houses in such neighbourhoods, you should be prepared to part with a high amount of money.

Number of days on the market

If a house has stayed too long on the market, it’s either overpriced or not a good property to invest in. Either way, there is a high probability that such property is not worth its asking price. You can make an offer less than the asking price but don’t allow it to be too low to avoid annoying the seller.

4. Mistakes to avoid when buying your dream house

Choosing a home that does not meet your needs

It’s okay to fall in love with a home but that doesn’t mean you should just go ahead and buy it without considering if it will be suitable for you and your family. When you find a home you love, consider your short and long term personal/family needs and find out if the home fits those needs.

Some neighbourhoods are relatively noisy or unsafe to take an evening stroll in, and this might not be very good for your family. Drive by the neighbourhood at various times of the day to get a feel of the neighbourhood. You can take it a notch further by having a chat with your potential neighbours in order to ascertain their opinions on factors like safety, proximity to important amenities and culture of the people in the neighbourhood. Such information helps you gauge the suitability of a neighbourhood.

Not scrutinising the legal agreement

A home buying contract’s fine print might not be in your favour and failure to spot this before signing could cause some serious legal problems in future. Employ the services of an experienced property lawyer to help check the agreement and ensure that it is in your best interest. This might come at an added cost but it will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Failing to document agreements

A home seller might promise to make some repairs or give you cash back for the repairs when buying but if this is not put in writing, there is really no assurance that this promise will be fulfilled. Make sure that you obtain all correspondences in writing and properly document same for future reference.

Lack of market research

By market research, we do not mean finding out the meaning of every real estate term in the book. However, we mean a research of how much a piece of property located in a particular geographical location should cost.

Market research also gives you insight into what happens in a typical house-buying process and the documentation required. Check a good property website for listings, tips and opinions from experts in the industry.

Failure to inspect the property

You will never know everything about the property until you inspect it. The property ought to be in proper shape before you buy it, else you’d be acquiring additional expenses. Read about the home inspection process to glean the importance of it. Perhaps, more importantly, a home or property inspection can help in your decision to buy or not to buy a home or property.

Failure to use a lawyer

You could be scammed. This is a reality most property buyers are aware of but hardly take the adequate steps to avoid the occurrence. Buying a property is a transaction and there is the possibility that things could go awry. Make certain to hire a lawyer who could advise your on crucial matters and ensure all due process is observed.

Ready to buy a house? Start your search right here.

Samod Biobaku
A Nigeria-based writer and blogger who has written and edited for top brands including The SUN, Punch, Newswatch, Pulse.ng, Bigsam Media, Nigerian Bulletin, Swish Interativ, Hello Nigeria, National LIFE, iCampus, Jobberman and Cheki.