HOUSE HUNTING IN LAGOS (1)
Happy New Month People!
I hope February brings you the blessings you missed in January.
So as promised, I am dropping this week's post. A round of applaud for Tory Teller, please!
Enjoy this special experience from a fellow Lagosian and blogger, Ayobami Fasusi. For that are reading from outside the country, Lagos is the most commercial and populous state in South-West Nigeria. You can know more about it from this post: Things we see in Lagos.
Before I share my experience regarding the topic, I’d like to issue a strong appeal to you reading this.
If you are in your 20s – 30s, single (especially female), and you have a space in your parents’ house—your privacy is not infringed and your sanity is not threatened—your proximity to work is close or you’re even job-hunting, PLEASE stay in your parents’ house and enjoy the free accommodation.
I understand that some may have other personal reasons for moving, which is totally fine. But if all the conditions I listed above applies to you, then you should really consider the golden opportunity you have before considering moving out, probably due to peer pressure or motigbensional speakers who preach ‘unsustainable independence’.
I’ve had my fair share of house-hunting brouhaha in late 2020. I’d been living in the spacious accommodation provided by my previous place of employment and I was under personal and external pressures to get a place of my own. After considering my finances and my long-term career goals, I decided it was time to begin the ultimate hunt for my safe haven.
I spoke to three of my former colleagues— let’s call them Gbenga, Anita, and Jeremiah—and they were kind enough to share the contact of their respective agents with me.
Lesson number 1- Do not depend on one agent in Lagos to avoid being disappointed.
Between the devil and some Lagos agents, I don’t know who is more deceitful.
So, I called Gbenga’s agent first, a barrister who asked for my budget and I told him 100k-120k per annum, excluding the usual agent and agreement fees that you pay before renting any apartment. He told me that the available house he had were 180k above for a room self-contained. I screamed in my head and told him not to worry about it. And that was the end of our conversation.
Lesson number 2 – Have a budget in mind and stick to it.
You may have reasons to exceed your budget a little if the apartment you find is worth it or you get a bigger space you wanna share with someone. Aside from these, consider your income level and stick to your budget. Before you allow a silver-tongued agent to convince you to take an expensive apartment, consider how easy/hard it will take for you to save and renew your rent because one year will go by so quickly!
I moved on to Anita’s lawyer and that was the beginning of my woes. You see, before she shared her agent’s contact with me, she gave glowing recommendations about him. This made me feel at ease that I was in the right hands. So, I called him and we fixed a meeting for the next day after the close of my work.
We met the next day, discussed my budget, choice of apartment and location. Once we came to an agreement, I paid him 2k on the spot for the agent form. Then we set out to check two houses.
Lesson number 3 – You need a truckload of patience to deal with agents because I think some of them are deaf.
Relax, it’s a thought because I can’t say for sure. I mean, you will tell an agent exactly what you want and they will show you a DIFFERENT apartment and try to convince you to take it!
The first house he took me to had me wondering if I was in the amazon rainforest because, despite the beautiful exterior, there was a scary bush in the compound. The landlord had built the house on one side and left the jungle on the other side. I could tell from some abandoned rooms and the dirty interior that the house was not well maintained. What’s worse, the apartment he showed me was like a pigsty. The toilet can NEVER be salvaged and the room had only one window. I didn’t waste time telling him ‘No, thank you’.Imagine living in a house that was a potential breeding ground for snakes, elephants, and dinosaurs? Though the location was at a vantage point, the features of the house bore a semblance to a hut in the evil forest.
We moved to the next house, a one storey building some miles away from the first one. It was around past six and we met the hostile landlady who said she didn’t entertain agents after six pm. That was my first red flag!
There was no way I was gonna live in a house with a cantankerous house owner. After much pleas, she allowed us to check the unpleasant apartment that made me hiss. So much noise for a room that was not painted or tiled. Also, I had to share a kitchen with three other people. The toilet was better than the first house but I still couldn’t imagine my precious bum sitting on it.
“No, thank you, sir” was my immediate response.
I didn’t care about his tired face. My answer was No.
This brings me to lesson number 4 – Do not be in a hurry to choose an apartment. If an agent says he has 3 houses to show you, ensure you see the three houses before making a decision.
Even if you like the first or second, don’t show it! Listen, it is the agent’s job to show as many houses as you want until you are satisfied with one of them. Don’t let them make you feel like you’re stressing them. Stress them! It’s what they signed up for.
Anyways, we called it a day and fixed a later date. To summarize my regrettable experience with this man, he took me to a house under construction which I rejected, another had a landlord who locks the gate by 9 pm, another self-contained was so tiny that it could only contain my bed and the toilet seat was so low that I wondered how the previous tenant coped, and others too painful to remember.
Oh, there were some houses where the owners (mostly women) said they didn’t want single ladies because of their promiscuous ways. Their houses were trash by the way.
After enduring the trials and tribulations that came with this agent for two months, I moved on to Jeremiah’s agent. We met once, he showed me two houses and I liked the second immediately. This is where I currently live and it has been peaceful so far.
Other lessons I would love to share from my experiences are:
Ask questions about the house before you pay.
Do they have outstanding power bills? Is light good in the area? Are there silly house rules? Who was the previous occupant of the house?
Some agents will lie when you ask these questions so I advise that you speak to one or two of the tenants you meet in the house. Their answers might be your saving grace. Also, confirm you are making payment to the landlord by requesting their contact, it is your right.
Check the apartment thoroughly before paying.
Broken windows? Clogged toilets? Plumbing issues?Electrical issues?
Ensure the agent fixes these issues before you move in. Some will insist that you pay first so they can fix it. After you pay, do not move into the house until everything is fixed. Your rent begins to count after the apartment becomes habitable.
Make friends with your neighbours
This is one of my biggest flex in the house I currently stay. Introvert or not, you need your neighbours. There will always be one or two trouble-loving neighbours that you will need to avoid but in all, be polite to them.
It’s been ten months since I got this place and I can say that it was worth the wait. Shine your eyes! Pray before choosing an apartment if you have to. I hope these lessons help you in your hunt for a good apartment. Cheers!
Ayobami Fasusi is a content writer & marketer, storyteller, and screenwriter. She loves reading, writing, and travelling in her head. She has a crush on Wentworth Miller and they are blessed with three imaginary sons.
She blogs at kemiclassico.com
Do you agree with my dear friend Ayobami? Have you had a similar or different experience while house hunting and would like to share? Please send me a mail via firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to read yours too.
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© Onyinye Udeh