Bola Gidado: The Naija Single Lady’s Guide To Renting a Good Property
In the hunt for the perfect house, one starts out very excited and energetic, but it easily gets weary along the way, only to give in to the nearest option one finds. You inspect properties everyday, you have numerous agents on speed dial, which you have paid N2,000 for ‘form’, and although you clearly told them you want a three bedroom ensuite apartment in Lekki Phase I, they still tell you ‘aunty there is very big one bedroom in Lakowe, all that side is still Lekki naa…’ lol.
Hmm, what do you do? Do an immediate turn, and get a strategy to prevent burn-out. Start by setting out your priorities and streamlining your specifications. Also, get yourself a professional agent to show you around, and with these few tips you will spend less time and resources on the search.
1. Set your priorities. Before taking a look at any houses, sit down and write out everything you want in a home, like your preferred location, type of house, number of rooms, fittings, finishing, design, utilities, and all other features. What are your wants? What are your deal breakers? Then choose your top five, or even top three, must-haves.
Once you start inspecting, all sorts of features (and/or agents) are bound to sway you; keeping your priorities list close at hand will help you stay on track.
2. Have a budget. Actually, this could be included in your priority list. Having a budget helps us to keep our finances in order, while putting our realities in good perspective. After all, we all don’t want to give all our hard-earned funds to landlords. Compare apartments within your budget, only make adjustments if you find features that beat your expectations.
3) Security Security Security: Life in Lagos can be nasty and brutish many times, each day we wake up to some scary news from the town. Single ladies are many times vulnerable to such happenings. So we always advise security to be top on of the single lady’s prioritiy list. For example, I’d advise against areas that have proximity with valleys, canals, dark roads, and the likes. As much as possible, the single lady should try to live within a well gated community.
4) Be Open to Share: We naija babes can love our privacy shaa, and sharing apartments isn’t quite popular yet. But start-ups like Air BnB and the likes have helped make arrangements like this appear more glamorous, now its slowly catching on in developing countries. Find a sister, friend, to share a beautiful apartment with. It allows you to get that apartment you’ve always dreamed of at a bargain because initial cost and maintenance charges are shared. Guess what else?.. you also get the luxury of companionship. It’s win-win for everyone, except you do not take out time to select your partner…
5) The Inspection
Ask for photos (or even a video). Life has become a lot easier, thanks to technology. Please before leaving the comfort of your home/office to enter the blazing Lagos sun for inspections, ask for photos or videos of the property, and possibly of the area where it’s located. This would definitely help you sift through properties worth seeing, and those that would leave your stomach crawling. Your agent is earning his fee, so be that Naija babe, and feel free to demand all you can.
Take your time to inspect Inspect only when you have good time to look around, with a calm mind. Never inspect properties in a hurry or under pressure. I advise you begin your search two-three months ahead so there are options where you can choose from.
Once you arrive at each property, walk through once and let yourself soak it all in. When you visit a nice apartment for the first time, the excitement can make it difficult to focus,…but once the butterflies have died down, it’s time to focus. Look out for every details, and gauge these against your set priorities. You can go back to the beginning and start again. Walk back to the front of the house and literally begin your tour again, this helps you achieve a clearer view. Another tip is to check out the property at different times of day. If you do come back for a second visit, make it during a different time from the first time. If earlier on, you checked during the day, go again in the evening for instance. You will observe the light, the atmosphere in the neighbourhood. Are there children playing outside? Is it a lively neighbourhood or lifeless? You are sure to learn and discover something new on another visit.
Once you achieve the dream of that suitable apartment, do some internal last-minute survey. Ask to meet your neighbours, your landlord/landlady, if you have pets; you need to be check the policy on pets.
Lastly, be time-realistic. Once you have the apartment that ticks your boxes, do not waste time, seal the deal!
Bola is an astute realtor with over ten years experience in the field of real estate. Armed with a background in estate management from OAU Ile-Ife, she has BSc. and MSc. degrees in Business from the University of Lagos Nigeria. Her main strengths are negotiation, property management, and real estate investment advisory. She currently runs Restedge Properties Co. in Lagos Nigeria, where she has excelled in her enterprise. Bola coordinates the activities of all other agents and the firm generally. She is also an active member of AEAN- the agency arm of the NIESV.