Ready to buy a house in Nigeria — perhaps in Lagos or Abuja? Then you’ll probably have many questions, such as — where should i buy? What are the steps i need to take? What documents do i need? How about the legals fees? And more. Answers to some of which you will find in this mini home buying guide — along with other important tips.
Whether you want to invest in real estate or simply buy a home to live in, the house buying process can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Making appropriate preparations and having the right mindset, can help you find the right property with the least amount of stress.
Use this checklist of things to consider before buying a house — to help guide you into making the right decisions. Our checklist covers house hunting, what to look for when buying, potential hidden costs of home ownership, things to avoid and essential questions to ask before committing to purchasing a property.
Steps to buying a house in Nigeria
Acquiring a house requires a lot of time, patience and organization. These 8 simple steps outline the entire home buying process:
- Do your research
- Know how much you can afford — save a deposit
- Find out if you qualify for a mortgage or housing scheme
- Get a real estate agent
- Start house hunting
- Submit an offer on a property
- Have the property inspected
- Close the deal
House buying checklist — tips and things to consider
The previous section outlined the entire property buying process — from start to finish. With the following home buying checklist and tips, we will expand on those steps in detail. You will then have the complete picture of how to buy a house in Nigeria.
Give your property search some time
You must allocate sufficient time to house hunting — say three months. Then you need time to close a deal — say another two months. Finally, you may need time to fix a few things prior to moving in — so add in an extra month or so.
Six months to find, buy and move into something suitable is a reasonable timeline.
It’s always better to take your time and find a property that fits your needs, than rush into buying a house that is not right for you.
What is your budget?
Budgeting for your house is crucial — this will allow you to focus on properties that you can actually afford. Mortgages that allow you to pay for a house in installments, can be an option for you.
If you already have cash set aside for purchasing your home — that’s great. If you need mortgage financing or a payment plan — you would need to calculate your net monthly income. To do this, total up your income and then minus your expenses. This will give you a rough figure you can work with.
What is your ideal property?
What type of house do you want to buy? What are your must have features in a home, your nice to haves and things you want to avoid:
- Flat or bungalow?
- Duplex or penthouse?
- Smart home?
- 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms?
- How many bathrooms?
- Kitchen size?
- Do you require closet space?
- Do you need a garage?
- Size of yard?
- Want a swimming pool?
- City home or country home?
- Older house or newly built home?
- And more!
Your answers here will help you conduct a focused house search, that is tailored to your needs. So make a list of must have features and keep it for reference.
Manage your expectations
Having unrealistic hopes can leave you ultimately, frustrated and disappointed. Thus it’s vital that you have a realistic budget.
Be aware of hidden costs
The cost of buying a house is not just limited to the list price. There are other costs you should consider such as:
- Home furnishing – tables, chairs, beds, sofas etc.
- Utility fees – electricity, water, gas etc.
- Extra charges – legal fees, service charges, property taxes etc.
- Infrastructure fees – roads, drainage etc.
- Insurance – are there any compulsory insurance policies?
- Closing expenses – home inspections, title searches, agent fees etc.
Are there any government or private led housing schemes?
There are several housing schemes that you may be eligible for, so you are advised to research. For example, in Nigeria, there is the National Housing Fund (NHF). This is a Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) product — that provides mortgage financing to contributors of the national housing scheme.
Find the right real estate agent
Although some may think they can go it alone — knowledge is indeed power. A real estate agent with this knowledge, is worth his or her weight in gold. An agent’s network, advice and understanding of property markets — are a crucial aspect of any property search and eventual transaction.
In addition, many houses are actually sold before they are listed online. Therefore it’s worth developing a relationship with an agent — to hear as soon as something suitable becomes available.
Choosing a location
Location is an important factor in real estate. Prime, desired locations — will cost more than others. While undeveloped districts, can have potentially excellent returns on investment.
What makes a location prime? Central area, transport links, wealthy residents and numerous amenities — to name a few. Other factors more specifically related to Nigeria are security, electricity supply and road network.
It is for such reasons that a place such as Abuja, is seen as generally expensive. If you can do without some of these prime features — your housing costs will be significantly less.
Find out the listing prices for properties in a given area
Thanks to the internet, it’s now easier than ever to access housing data/information — for free.
Once you know what type of property you want and in which location, do a quick search on one of the major property portal websites. You will then be able to see roughly how much you should be budgeting, to buy a specific type of home, in a given neighborhood.
Property prices do fluctuate
Nobody can accurately predict what house prices will be six months down the line — Prices can go up or down. It would be a mistake to see a house you like today and say:
“prices will probably come down soon, so I’ll get something cheaper in a few months”.
It is better to act on the information you have now.
Visit and get a feel for the neighborhood
You can’t wake up tomorrow and physically move your home elsewhere — you can renovate a house, but its location remains fixed.
It is recommended that you go out and visit a given neighborhood — prior to making any buying decision. Ask yourself what you do and don’t like about the place — is it the parks? Is it the serene area? Maybe it’s the posh restaurants?
Don’t forget to engage with locals on your visits — ask them questions to gather as much information as possible.
What are the neighborhoods future prospects?
Before you make an offer on a home, make some inquiries on the future prospects of the neighborhood. What has been planned or is being built in the area?
Are new roads being constructed? Is a new shopping mall to be opened?
Asking such questions, will allow you to become aware of all the things that may affect your future home and lifestyle — positively or negatively.
Ask questions when you go for viewings
The more you ask, the more you will know, and the better your chances of buying your ideal property.
Accordingly, you need to ask the seller questions to get answers and information. So ask questions like:
- How long has the home been on the market?
- How many viewings have you had?
- Has anyone made an offer?
- What furniture/appliances are included in the price?
- What renovations have been made?
- Why is the owner selling?
Go for multiple viewings
If you find a property you specifically like, It may help you to visit it a second time — with fresh eyes. If you previously visited during the day, schedule a night viewing and vice versa. This will give you a complete picture of not just the home, but the environment it sits in.
Have your camera ready — take pictures and notes
It’s wise to take pictures of any important home features, as you are likely going to be viewing multiple houses. If you need to, take short notes as well. You can then go over these pictures and notes later — this will help you pick out your dream home.
It is polite to ask for permission first, before taking any pictures.
Home buying deal breaker checklist
If you have viewed a house you love, arrange a second or third viewing — to inspect and look for any potential problems. Call a friend or an expert and get their opinion on the property. This can save you costly survey fees — if you spot big problems before putting in an offer.
- Look at the ceilings – are there cracks, leaks, stains?
- Look for damp on the walls, windows, flooring
- Do the doors and windows work as intended?
- Can you switch on the lights?
- Are the power points functioning?
- Examine the plumbing – do taps turn on? do toilets flush?
- Air conditioners and heating – do they work?
- Is there mobile network coverage in the area?
- Take a look at the roof – does it leak on a rainy day?
- Look at the property from the outside – any sign of structural damage?
Easily fixed features should not stop you buying a house
Nothing is ever perfect, unless you physically build it or design it yourself — even then there are bound to be imperfections. Hence, if you find the perfect-sized duplex, in a great neighborhood, that’s under budget but where the internal wallpaper is tacky, or the external paint color is not to your liking — don’t let that stop you making an offer.
As long as the house is fairly priced, you should have enough money left over to fix and renovate a property to your wishes — before you move in.
Seek houses that have been on the market for long
Sellers may be willing to drop the prices of homes that have not sold quickly. So you can potentially get yourself a bargain — if you negotiate right.
Be sure to check all is well with the property before making an offer. You can use the home buying deal breaker checklist, above, to help you.
Will you be able to sell this property in the future?
It is important that you consider how easy it is to resell a property — before committing to buying one. You might find downsides of a home, that you are willing to overlook — but will others?
If the property has been on the market for some time, you must think of all possible reasons why it hasn’t sold. Usually, it’s just the fact that the listed price is too high. However, sometimes there are other reasons — such as a noisy neighbors or poor parking space.
Patience — houses are always coming on the market
Finding the right home requires patience and a rational mind — never rush into things.
If you have made a fair market value offer for a property and it’s rejected, or you are beaten to it by another person — there’s no need to panic. You should not go and blindly put in an offer for another property — unless you really do want it.
Keep looking and something will come up eventually. When it does, remember to do all the necessary pre-offer checks. The key is to never make an offer for something you do not like or have not done due diligence on.
Before closing on your property
Make sure to have had a professional home inspection done and have gone for a final walk-through the property. You can then verify the house documents and proceed with the paperwork — for which you should hire the services of a real estate lawyer.
Time to get house hunting
With this guide, we have outlined the steps you need to take in order to buy a house in Nigeria. We have also provided you with a number of home buying tips and things to consider. For those looking to acquire a house in Nigeria’s capital — you can read this article on moving to Abuja.
If you want to buy a house in Nigeria, specifically Abuja, Villa Afrika can help. Get in touch today and lets discuss your property needs: +234 708 500 8039.
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