Most often than not, the decision to move houses hinges on the need for a change in lifestyle, a change of job or an increase in income or family unit (marriage or child bearing). No matter the case with you, your greatest concern while house-hunting is to find the one that ticks all your boxes. Truly, there’s no harm in being finicky, you just need to be strategic with your hunt.
On being strategic, it is beneficial to ask yourself these honest questions.
1.What do I want my house to look like?
It sounds like a simple question, but in reality, it’s easier to quickly list the things we don’t want, but stating exactly the things we want can be a big task. However huge a task it might seem though, it is important you provide an honest and realistic answer to this question.
Let’s break it down. If you want to live in Lagos for instance, you should ask yourself if you want a self-contain, mini flat, a two-bedroom flat, a three-bedroom flat, a duplex or even an estate; because you know, impossible is nothing.
Essentially, you cannot embark on a search for a house if you don’t know what you want and why you want it. If for instance, you want an apartment in the Ikeja axis of Lagos, write out your criteria for what you consider your ideal apartment and see if the houses in Ikeja fit your definition. This always makes things easier. Your questions will go along the lines of what things you want your apartment to have? Do you want a one-room space or a mini-flat? Do you want a small apartment or one with a very large space? Do you want a new/newly renovated house or can you make do with an old one? Do you want a house that is close to a particular bus-stop or do you prefer a house in a gated neighborhood? Do you want a serviced apartment or do you want it close to a shopping mall? Is it compulsory your place of residence is close to your office or are you indifferent to this? Are you concerned about the reputation of the neighborhood you live or do you prefer quiet places like G.R.A Ikeja?
You can’t possibly write out everything you want for and in your apartment, but you should write as much as you can. The idea is to narrow down the possibilities and expectations. It is very important that you prioritize your wants as it is a crucial stage in your search for a home.
2.How much can I afford to pay?
And I mean this in every capacity; what do you have money for and what can you afford to deal with? Let’s talk about what you have the financial capabilities for. When searching for a home, you must be sure you will be able to pay your rent annually. Make a firm decision on what you can afford. It is recommended that you spend no more than 30% of your monthly income on your rent. For instance, if you earn N100,000 monthly as your net income, you should not save more than N30,000 monthly for your rent. At the end of the year, you would have saved N360,000, which would cover your rent.
Now, I’ll be the first to say, if you have a slim budget; as majority of Lagos Eight to Fivers do, you should not go looking for a house in G.R.A. Ikeja or Allen, even if there other specifics that can be found cheap in Allen. I’ll rather you widen your scope of search to adjoining communities like Ogba, Dopemu, Egbeda, Akowonjo, Palmgroove or Maryland where the cost of transportation to and from Ikeja is relatively low. Also, the upside to this is that the cost of living is not as towering as when you’re actually living in the heart of Ikeja, where as they say, everything is ‘as expensive as gold’.
3.What can I to afford to deal with?
By asking yourself what you can afford to deal with, you’re asking yourself to take cognizance of things that you can’t condone, and this is pertinent to house-hunting. Granted, you can’t afford the houses in the heart of Ikeja, but that doesn’t translate into kicking your standard of living to curb. If you can’t afford to live in a house where you have to deal with flood, or a neighborhood where street fights are the order of the day, then you must know that the action required to avoid this, (in the case of potential flood) is to check-out the house during the rainy season and if time can’t afford you that, ask around. I know this is Lagos, but trust me, you’ll find people to tell you. And for street fights, you’ll know a rough hood when you see it.
Ideally, your new neighborhood should be the perfect fit to your personality and interests. The best way to find out about the spirit of the neighborhood is to talk to your potential neighbors and see what they’re like. Remember that if everything goes smoothly, this is the area where you’ll live for years.
4.How safe am I here?
Perhaps, no other aspect of choosing an area to live in is as important as safety. The question of safety is sovereign, which means you shouldn’t take it lightly. Sure, certain areas may have temptingly low prices, but if it means putting your life at risk, then please, don’t do it.
In determining safety, the best way to check the area’s crime level is to study the reviews from people who already live there online. Another way to assess the safety of a neighborhood is to visit it both during the day and the night.
A simple visual check can also give you a good idea about the life in the neighborhood. If the homes are well maintained, children are being raised to acceptable standards, and the people look friendly enough, there is a good chance the area is safe to live in.
5.What is the best possible way to get a house?
Now that you are sure of what you want as far as your apartment is concerned, it is time to start searching. A good way to start is visiting a trusted property website and going through property listings that fit your criteria. Searching online makes the task of narrowing down your search much easier, it also gives you a number of added advantages:
- Access to more property options
- More information about the property
- Filters, which help you narrow down your search to meet your specific requirements
- Safer as compared to working with property agents offline.
Also, don’t limit your search to searching online. You should speak to friends and family and ask if they have direct access to a homeowner. The idea is to keep an open mind. In some cases, you could actually know one person who would contact the property owner and even negotiate on your behalf. You could also look through popular property magazines to see their listings.