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House-Hunting Memoirs: Lagos estate agents showed me shege and 25 flats!By Dorcas Babalola on May 13, 2023

I stared at my laptop with a frozen expression. I was lost in thought contemplating my first article after the company introduced me to you a few days ago. I had envisaged different stories but got swamped by the multitude of content ideas flying around my head. And then, voila! It occurred to me. This is Lagos, Nigeria; every bit of information matters. So, I decided to let you into my world, my recent house-hunting experience.

Flash back to 2020, when my resolve to leave my comfort zone saturated my mind, as intensely as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world. It was during this time that I knew I had to push myself harder than ever to pursue my career and chase after my dreams as a copywriter and as an entrepreneur. Getting an apartment became one of the decisions I resolved to.

My heart raced with anticipation as I decided to leave my parent’s house so I could do exploits and embrace the life of an adult with house-rent billings in view. I was ready to take on whatever challenges come my way.

House-Hunting Memoirs #1
House-Hunting Memoirs #1

Taking a decision that will leave me fending for myself was an absolute roller coaster experience. I asked myself, “Do I want to do this?” I reached out to friends who know about or are into real estate. The house-hunting journey began in 2021 and it took much longer than I originally anticipated. An even longer time to finally settle on one. Looking back now, in 2021, I didn’t do very much. I only half-heartedly told agents I was searching.

Trust me, if you don’t take yourself seriously, no one will. Till you place that value on your dream nothing will happen. I learnt this valuable lesson while house-hunting. Towards the end of 2022 I applied more urgency to my search because by this time, I was really ready. And Lagos agents believe that once they show you a place and you like it, you should be able to pay on the spot. They are the real Lagos Business men. LOl! But this moment for me wouldn’t come until 2023.

It is important to say that while house-hunting, you need:
Firstly, “a Plan” – Where do you want to stay, what social amenities are available in that area etc.
The second thing was my “Checklist” for the type of apartment I want. I had the checklist on my phone and on a piece of paper. I went out with it day and night because an agent’s call could come in anytime.

The Dorcas Checklist
The Checklist

The third and most important thing was my “Budget”. I already told myself that a 2-bedroom apartment of more than ₦700,000-₦1m per annum was out of my way and like Davido “I am unavailable” for it. I sadly am not part of the ₦400,000 gang yet.

Davido · UNAVAILABLE (feat. Musa Keys)

Armed with my budget, I avoided Lagos agents carrying me to where I don’t know and showing me what they think is okay for them but not for me. My checklist helped me stay strong even when Lagos agents tried to do what they do best: Getting you to settle for below your expectations or higher than your budget.

After 5 months of a more aggressive and focused search, using 8 direct agents and meeting 6 intermediary agents for many of the 25 properties I was shown I won. The way it works in Lagos is, there is the caretaker, the agent, and then other agents that are calling other agents. Lol! That spaghetti chain of agents’ eventually inflates the price of properties and the agency fees because everyone wants to get paid.

Finally, I am settling into my 2-bedroom apartment. What will I look out for next when house-hunting?
Truth be told, You need all the information before settling on a home. I wish someone had told me but I spent a lot on agents at many flat visits . For their transportation, “the” registration form and even on call credit. But there were days I insisted on not paying. A girl is broke and I don’t think there is a need to check every flat or pay for every visit. Agents, after all, are interested in securing the bag and sometimes they forfeit the payment on visits. That urgent 2k is important to them.

Lagos estate agents showed me properties I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. I can’t tell it all yet as it was exhausting. My checklist had a particular area and because of the demand there, some landlords have refused to maintain their property but would still want to give them out at the cost of newly refurbished homes. Although I couldn’t get an apartment with POP for my budget, I got space and a well maintained flat that I only had to make minor adjustments to. I eventually topped my original budget by ₦100,000 but my compromise was minimal. While house-hunting, I learned to be budget-conscious, street-smart, and most importantly not to attend flat visits alone. Having that third person that can check the property with you could ensure you live within your means.

In the next post, I’ll tell you more and let you know what’s needed and what to look out for and tick off on your checklist while house-hunting. Mine was still a dream come true with a necessary upgrade to my top budget! So when you see me adulting, understand that I now have the added responsibility of house rent-billing. But I am really happy about this bold new step.

Kindly comment if you are house-hunting and share your experience as well.

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