House hunting in Lagos

Looking for a house in Lagos? Here’s what no real estate agent will tell you.

For rent

I went house searching recently and I have a story to tell.

House hunting in Lagos is a full time job that is very tedious and you will need to get paid a salary for even.  But nobody will tell you that or pay you either.

So I am sharing with you, learning points from my experience, which I believe you will find useful.

1. You don’t just need an agent, you need a lot of patience:

See, let no one deceive you. You need to be patient; you need to have a lot of it: tested and trusted.  If you don’t have it, it is either you go and borrow or you forget about getting a house.

Because there is no way you’d do without it when three months down the line, you are still looking for a house. You will also need it for those times when an agent shows you a shack or room the size of a match box as the same spacious bedroom you told him about.

2. It is the more you look, the less you see

Don’t bother to understand why the agent has shown you a cubicle, literally as three-bedroom apartment for example because you are only doing your brain harm.

There is no understanding it. The agents have and are set in their ways. Just remain resolute about what you want and be patient.

3. The only person that can be trusted in the process is you and even that, sometimes is in doubt

Did you know that one can pay for an apartment, be given the keys to it and show up at the place to find out that you are only one of the three persons that have paid for the same apartment and have keys to it besides the person already living in it? Welcome to the downside of Lagos real estate market

So the key is:  always put on your sixth and seventh sense even at all times when dealing with agents. Never make payments in cash or before you do your background checks and have signed a binding agreement.

Even then, be sure that you are double checking everything with a trusted and experienced adviser or lawyer.

Of course, never consider an apartment to be truly yours till you have moved and settled in and no other potential tenant is coming to ask you to leave “their house”

4. You must be married or at least be 'engaged' to a man in the abroad that has sent you to get a house for both of you (whether it is true does not matter)

From my experience during this last search, it is hard to get a nice house in Lagos as a single person but harder for you as a female.

Two times I was told that I could not be given a house that I could afford to pay for conveniently because I was not married.

So here’s the thing: when you are ready to seriously go house hunting, go and get married, borrow an engagement ring or a husband even. It is okay to say that the relationship packed up after you moved into the house.

Now for the single guys, you don’t have to wear ripped jeans or dreads or visible tattoos and every other thing that will generally make you look irresponsible. It does not matter how responsible you think you are in your heart.

5. The houses are not cheap. You must be ready to part with an arm and a leg (figuratively speaking) for a good house

The only cheap houses in Lagos are under bridges but if those come with their prices as well. Sometimes it is hard to tell why or how the apartment you end up with is deserving of all the money you are made to cough out for it.

Forget that Lagos State has a law which prohibits landlords from demanding 2-year rent advance. Because the classic response is that the government did not build the houses for them. So you will be very lucky to pay only one year advance.

Just be ready to part with an arm and a leg in the worst scenario.

Away from all of the above however, one thing in my experience that helped my search was finding verified agents that I could trust on Efritin.com

This is a feature by Efritin.

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