Kayode Jesuseun: “I want to buy property in Nigeria. Now what?”
One of the biggest factors in buying property at a great deal is to ask the right questions. Asking relevant questions from the agent or the property owner could save you millions of naira or make you avoid buying a property with litigations and/or committed property. The more questions you ask, the more the real situation about the property becomes clearer and the better your chance of buying your dream home or investment property based on informed decision.
Why is the Property Owner Selling?
The estate agent might not answer this question directly but you might discover the real reason might be that the owner is desperate to sell as a result of pressure to pay off a bank loan, couldn’t continue to maintain the property, a family member in a terrible health situation, buying a lesser or bigger home and would like to relocate to overseas due to work transfer to accept lower price, etc. there could be any number of reasons, but it pays to be informed.
What are the problems in the area?
One of the biggest fears in buying property is that there are negative factor in the area which you might not know, except by speaking to the next door neighbors or shop owners within the catchment area. Is the area prone to flooding? Does robbery or violence rate high in the area? How problematic is the next door neighbor? Are other property owners selling off their property? If you have any doubt about the house, ask the next door neighbor what they think about the house and area.
What is included in the sale?
Are the fixtures and fittings included? Any other unmentioned fittings on the property? Where does boundary lie? Make sure you see all of what you are getting from buying the property at the beginning.
How long has the property been on the market?
If the house has been on the market for more than 5 months, ask the agent why it has not been sold. Are there problems other prospective buyers have realized that you have not noticed? Is it just overpriced palaver? A long period in the market might mean the property owner’s willingness to accept a lower price, too.
How long has the property owner lived in the house?
Find out how long the property owner has lived in the house. If they are moving out within a short period of time, it might be a bad sign. However, if they are relocating after a long period of time, it might indicate a peaceful house in a peaceful neighborhood. Always find out the duration of current property owner in the property.
Has the property repeatedly changed hands?
If the property has frequently changed ownership within a short period of time, it could indicated that you’re about to buy a troubled house. Find out the real reason why the previous property owners moved out. Try to contact them if possible.
How did you determine the asking price?
Any trained real estate agent should be able to provide a valuation report backing the asking price, otherwise it might be based on the property owner’s discretion. Try to find out the price of similar properties on market in the area so that you will not end up buying overvalued property.
What is the minimum price the seller will accept?
The question might be funny to some buyers, but asking about the minimum acceptable price might save you million. Don’t forget that the estate agent wants to sell even at a lower price in order for him or her to be paid for facilitating the sale.
What offers have been received on the property?
The agent will likely tell you if other prospective buyers are making offers, but not the exact offers made. If you can find out about other offers, it might be an incentive to come to an agreement and make the deal a lot easier to close.
When do the sellers have to move out?
Have the sellers found another home? If yes, they are highly motivated to sell as soon as possible. If you have to wait until they find somewhere else, the transaction might be delayed longer than you expect. What if the seller is relocating overseas? It means they are ready to move out on time to start a new life in a new home. Also, if the property owner has another home, it will be easy for him to quickly move in after sale, provided it is vacant.
Could I speak to the sellers?
Most real estate agents frown at this question, as it is their job to negotiate, but it might be the best thing to do because most sellers are like you – not real estate professionals, and this means they often give sincere answers to the question which might be difficult for the agent to answer. For example, why is the property owner moving? It can also give you a better feel of the house after talking to the seller.
Do they have necessary building approval?
If so, have a look at the necessary building approvals and planning control documents. It would be painful and costly to discover later after you bought your dream home, that you are without the necessary government approvals.
How old is the property?
It is really interesting to know when the property was built because upkeep of older houses is usually more expensive.
Have there been any renovation works recently?
If so, why? Very often people repaint rooms to cover cracks on the wall or damp. Also look out for possible floor, plumbing, electrical, ceiling problems. Ensure you look thoroughly to avoid aftermath costs or regrets.
While it is a good idea to hear what the estate agent has to say, make sure you do independent research. Afterall, you’re the one that will have to live in the house.
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