Buying houses from developers is an increasingly popular option in Nigeria, especially in Abuja and parts of Lagos. There are a number of real estate developers, actively involved in building and selling new homes across the country.
There are two main ways of buying a new build property from a developer. You can either purchase houses off plan (i.e. before they are constructed) or you can buy houses that have been newly built. The former allows you to personalize your house more to your taste, while with the latter there’s little waiting time — allowing you to move in straight away.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the pros and cons to buying property from developers, highlight issues you need to be aware of when dealing with such developers and provide you with key tips on how to make the home buying process as smooth as possible.
Advantages of buying from developers
Buying a house from a developer gives you the opportunity to start with a blank canvas, enabling you to customize your home exactly how you want. If you buy off plan, the extent of customization is even greater.
With new build homes you can choose your fixtures, finishing and flooring. So things like tiles, kitchen cabinets, paint colors and more.
Smooth process — less history
As new builds are by default empty at first, there is no waiting for the owner to find another property before moving in i.e. a chain-free property.
Additionally brand new homes will have no history to speak of, which means there are less likely to be hidden problems in the future.
To encourage you to purchase, developers often have various incentives related to new builds. For example, some can pay your legal fees or offer you a significant discount if you are purchasing in cash.
Many of the new builds on offer in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja and Lagos, tend to have mortgages or payment plans in place. Some of these plans can be tied to banks and a few are directly provided by the developer.
It can be much more difficult to obtain financing when looking at older homes on the secondary market.
Genuine properties — verified documents
Working with a reputable developer or estate agent ensures that you only acquire verified properties. Furthermore, most of the legwork related to documentation, would be made simple or even have already been completed for you. So things such as, building plans, title of seller, estate covenants etc.
Disadvantages of buying from developers
In real estate projects, especially in Nigeria, there are often delays to construction which can mean not moving in on time. This can be a key issue if you have a deadline for relocation — for example.
Unclear marketing materials
If you are buying off plan, marketing materials are often very vague and thus key information is unavailable. This doesn’t give you a clear picture of what the house will eventually look like when built.
Disruption — untested homes
As the house will be new, its structure and appliances will have been untested: there may be defects. Moreover If the home you are looking to purchase is in an estate, there can be major disruption as other houses are being built or infrastructure is being laid.
Top tips for buying property from a developer
If you do decide to buy a house from a developer, here are some important final tips to help you get the most value from your acquisition:
Work with a real estate agent
Buying a property, new construction or not, is time consuming. A realtor can make the process much easier for you. They can:
- Help find you the best neighborhoods
- Arrange house tours
- Answer all your questions
- Help with negotiation
Usually, agent fees are paid for by the developer. Hence, regardless of if an agent is hired or not, the buyer pays the developer the same amount to acquire a property.
Essentially, you can get an agents professional services for free — so use it.
Consider the neighborhood before buying
A lot of buyers frequently focus on how a home looks: its features, size and cost. All too often, a properties location is an afterthought.
The area a home is located in, is just as important as any other factor. You should be asking yourself questions like:
- What does the future of the community look like?
- Does the area have all the amenities required nearby?
- Is the neighborhood family-friendly?
- How long will it take you to commute
You can negotiate prices, extras and upgrades
The list price can be negotiated, even though you are dealing with a property developer and not a homeowner.
Research the developers sales and marketing situation:
- Do they have multiple properties on the market?
- How long have the properties been on the market?
- How many properties have been sold so far?
The more properties developers have in their inventory and the longer they have been on the market for — the stronger your bargaining position and the more likely they are to reduce their prices.
Also, as part of the negotiation, see what extras you can push for. For instance, you might buy upgraded bathroom fittings from the developer, and then ask for a premium kitchen cabinet at no extra cost.
Additionally, you can always seek permission to buy and install extras on your own — in order to customize the house to your wishes.
Popular things to install or upgrade include:
- Tubs and showers
- Kitchen countertops
- Smart home technology
Buy early — get the best units
At the start of any new project, developers love to secure early sales. It is at the start of a new construction project, that buyers often obtain the best deals and discounts.
Accordingly, the earlier your buy into a project, the cheaper it will be for you to do so. For investors, the cheaper you buy initially, the greater the returns on investment you will see.
Buying early also presents you with the opportunity of selecting the best property units — which tend to command greater resale values.
Research the developers background
It’s important that you do your due diligence on any developer or builder — before you fork over your hard earned money. Ask questions like:
- What is their track record?
- How many projects have they completed?
- Are they good at what they do?
- Are they financially secure?
- Can they deliver?
The more you know about a developer, the better. As you’ll then be able to make an informed decision — as to whether or not to proceed with the purchase.
Get it in writing
When dealing with a house developer, get all promises made in writing. So, what will be done and when it will be done — needs to be written down on paper, for the record. Never rely on oral commitments, as they can be very difficult to enforce.
You need to verify that the said developer actually has the required documents to be able to build legally. So check land titles, building plans, government approvals and related information.
Hire a property lawyer to help you. A lawyer can also help you navigate contract agreements — while making sure you understand your liabilities and commitments.
Terms & conditions — what is and isn’t included in the price?
It is all well and good finding a property at a cheap price. But when it comes to buying from a developer — the devil is in the details. You need to scrutinize the terms and conditions of any contract before you sign.
Clarify, beforehand, which items come as part of the developers standard package and which features come at an extra cost. Look for things like:
- Hidden charges – service charge, legal fees, property taxes? etc.
- Infrastructure fees – roads, electricity, water? etc.
- What facilities and services are included in the price? – rubbish collection, security, gym etc.
- Warranty/insurance – does the building have any protection policy for defects?
Try to be aware of all the terms and options, before committing to anything. As with most building projects, costs tend to go up when you make decisions “on-the-go”. Relatively small costs can add up over time.
Expect delays (and pre-plan for them)
If you are buying a property that has not been fully finished, you should expect delays towards its completion.
Make sure you are aware of when the house will be ready to move into, while remaining as flexible as possible. New construction homes can face delays due to a variety of reasons — one being bad weather!
As a result, you need to ensure that you have a place to live in throughout the duration of the project — factoring in likely delays.
Have the home inspected
Similar to older houses, new construction homes can also have defects. Thus it is important that you have an independent home inspector, check everything is okay with your new property.
A home inspector will assess the electrical, insulation, mechanical and structural systems of a home — making sure that they comply with required building regulations. So things such as heating, plumbing, roofing and walls.
If you are buying the property before it is fully built, you should have the home inspector regularly visit the property — from the first stages of construction. It is much easier to identify any potential problems in the early phases of building. For example, wiring and plumbing work can be checked before walls are plastered.
Finally, don’t just leave it to a home inspector! You would also do well to visit the site frequently — to confirm things are going to plan.
Get home warranty
For extra peace of mind, check that your home comes with builders warranty. If it doesn’t — find insurance cover privately. Home warranty will cover you from major structural defects, while respective manufacturers should cover any appliance warranties.
Taking into account all these different factors, will ensure you make the right choice — when it comes to buying a house from a developer. The next step is finding the right property.
If you want to buy property from a developer, in Abuja, Villa Afrika can help. Contact us today and let’s have a chat: +234 708 500 8039.
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