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The Act of Investing involves the setting aside of part of one’s financial resources with the intention of acquiring assets that would generate future income or profit. There are several Investment classes one can consider for Investment such as Stocks, Money market Instruments as well as Real Estate. Whilst the possible outlets for Investment can vary as indicated above, the objectives are generally the same and include;

The question however arises; Why Invest in Real estate property? What makes Investing in this asset class apparently more advantageous than others? Where are the real estate investment opportunities in Lagos? In answering these questions, we note that Investment in real estate, and that includes Lagos, has the following advantages;

Investment in Real Estate can also be either by outright purchase of a fully completed dwelling unit or by purchasing a property off-plan (that is prior to or during construction). Whilst each mode of property acquisition has its relative advantages and disadvantages, we would like to highlight in this article the various advantages of off plan property Investment as follows.

Why one should invest in off plan properties

  1. Investing in off-plan properties has the immediate advantage of value appreciation or capital growth merely by making the purchase. In this wise, one should note that in most cases off plan property developments in Lagos  and other areas in Nigeria are usually sold at a discount relative to fully built ones, thus one is already making a gain in that wise.

  2. Furthermore, many off-plan developments tend to be situated in neighbourhoods that are just developing and such developments tend to enhance the overall value of the neighbourhood especially if they are large. This type of scenario leads to appreciation in the value of properties in that neighbourhood with the result that by the time the development is being completed the value of the properties within same tend to be significantly higher than the value at which they were bought off plan thus resulting into capital appreciation. This is especially the case with many property developments in the Lekki area of Lagos  which in itself is still in development

  3. A further advantage of purchasing off-plan properties is that notwithstanding the likely appreciation in property values over the construction period, prices tend to be locked in at the level at which the buyer enters into the transaction. A prospective property buyer should however go through the initial paperwork carefully to confirm this is indeed the case and avoid signing on to schemes that allow for significant variations in prices as construction progresses.

  4. Buying a property off plan in Lagos also enables one to make payment instalments as the construction progresses thus giving the advantage of being able to moderate one’s cash flow and avoid the possibility of having to liquidate other assets in order to make a bulk payment for the property.

  5. Another advantage of off plan purchases is the possibility it creates for one to make modifications to the building design at the early stages of construction and to also have finishes or building components specified to one’s taste and preferences.

  6. A further advantage conferred by off plan property purchase is the opportunity to pick one’s preferred location within a particular development especially if one is able to key into the development at an early stage. This is as opposed to the case of an already built up property that has its location already fixed.

  7. Finally, a notable advantage one gets from buying properties off plan is the fact that developers of such schemes usually offer extended warranty periods during which any construction defects are rectified at no cost to the buyer. This is in contrast to purchase of fully built up properties which tend to have only limited warranty periods where newly built and have no warranty period at all if the building is one that has been lived in for some time. At Beachway Homes, all our new developments enjoy a full one year warranty period as we strive to ensure our customers are fully satisfied with any property bought from our company.

The foregoing provides important reasons why you should seriously consider investing in off-plan properties and we do hope the information herein is enough to convince you its well worth a try! Contact us for more details  about off plan property investment in the Lagos area, we will be delighted to answer all your questions.

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In recent years, the Lekki Peninsula has become a much sought after residential location in Lagos especially for young families and couples looking to buy homes in the city as well as looking for houses to rent. In actual fact, Lekki has been described in several real estate reports and publications as ‘the fastest growing real estate corridor in Nigeria’.

Why then has Lekki become such a popular residential destination in the last fifteen to twenty years or thereabouts for both families and couples? The reasons for this are varied but we would endeavour to examine some of them as follows;

Relative Availability of Large Tracts of Land

The Lekki peninsula is a relatively new addition to the urban landscape of Lagos as development did not really take off there until the early nineties. This is unlike other areas of Lagos such as Victoria Island, Ikoyi and the Lagos mainland that have been in existence since the fifties and sixties. The relatively late development of Lekki in terms of urbanisation therefore resulted in the fact that there are still large areas on the peninsula that are not yet fully built up. This therefore makes the area an attractive destination for developers and has resulted in greater availability of new houses for sale in Lekki as compared to other parts of Lagos.

Proximity to the Commercial Center of the City

From the sixties up to the early nineties, the Central business district of Lagos was located in the Lagos Marina / Broad Street area of Lagos Island. By the mid-nineties however due to congestion and blight, the CBD of Lagos shifted to Victoria Island which also offered greater security and ambience. It was actually from this time onwards that Lekki started gaining popularity as from a residential location point of view; it initially offered shorter travel times and less stressful access to Victoria Island as opposed to commuting from the Lagos Mainland. Notwithstanding the increased congestion on the Lekki axis in recent years, it still retains that sense of proximity which makes it a more attractive residential option for young couples than most other parts of Lagos mainland.

Concentration of Developers in the Area

Due to the two factors highlighted above, Lekki peninsula has been a very attractive destination for residential development in particular and has thus led to a high concentration of Real Estate developers operating in Lekki compared to anywhere else in Lagos. This influx of developers into Lekki has in its turn resulted in relatively greater availability of new builds in the Lekki axis. In the light of this, young families looking to buy houses in Lagos find that they have far greater options to consider in Lekki when prospecting for houses.

Security of the Neighbourhood

Security is at the top of the list for most people planning to buy a home in Lagos and this is quite understandable. In view of the fact that there is a lot of residential development activities in the Lekki area that are initiated by developers, many of the houses in Lekki are situated within private gated estates and this offers the required level of security for most prospects thus making Lekki a desirable property acquisition and investment destination for them

Variety of Entertainment Hubs, Shopping and Lifestyle Centers

Partly due to the fact that Lekki is a growing neighbourhood and also because of the huge explosion in residential accommodation, there has likewise been a huge investment in Shopping and entertainment hubs such as the Palms Mall and Circle Mall in order to serve the relatively affluent residents of Lekki peninsula. This has led to a situation where the Lekki peninsula has arguably become home to the highest concentration of major shopping malls in the Lagos metropolis. This in its turn increases the attractiveness of living in Lekki as it practically leaves you spoilt for choice when it comes to locations where one can schedule family outings or simply catch some fun. With the rich mix of local and international hotels, shopping malls, gymnasiums, and other recreational centers, available on and around the peninsula you are sure to find what you desire in terms of leisure activities in the area.  

Access to a Variety of Good Schools

Again, due to the rapid development of numerous housing estates on the Lekki peninsula, a huge demand has been created for quality Schools that would serve the residents living in the area and that do not require a long commute. This huge demand for good Schools has encouraged the setting up of several new Schools to meet the residents’ needs.

It has likewise triggered the location of new branches of already established and well known educational institutions such as Corona School, Greensprings College, Chrisland Schools and others in the Lekki area. Lekki has thus become noted for its wide range of excellent schools which give children the necessary foundation they require with regards to primary education and also prepare them for college or university education. The abundance of notable and prestigious Schools in Lekki is thus another factor that has made it an attractive place to live for a lot of young families.

Lekki Provides Business Opportunities for Emtrepreneurs

Finally, a further point to note is that with the continued rapid development of Lekki in terms of residential estates, Shopping and Entertainment hubs, Schools and other facilities, there is a concurrent growing demand for a lot of other complimentary services such as Pharmacies, Supermarkets, Building materials stores, Laundries, Event centres, Petrol stations, Restaurants, Hospitals, etc. This huge demand for complimentary services draws budding entrepreneurs to the Lekki area to set up business that would meet some of the demand and ultimately many of such entrepreneurs subsequently decide to acquire houses in the zone in order to have proximity to their businesses or places or work.

In conclusion whilst there may be still other factors drawing young families to Lekki, the foregoing are the key ones we have identified for discussion and these no doubt provide a good overview of the factors that fuel the attraction young couples and families feel for the Lekki area of Lagos.


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“The best investment on earth is earth” – Louis Glickman

land title search in the property buying process

When buying a property in Nigeria, “Land Title” is one of the terms you will come across during the home buying process.  In this post we are going to talk about “Land Title” and the importance of title search in the whole home purchase process.

The relationship between land and human kind is a very important aspect to life and has been a source of so many disputes all over the world. In land transactions, title is everything as it defines the owner’s bundle of rights in a piece of property that can be held, consigned or transferred by one party to another. We presume at this point you are wondering about the importance of conducting a check on the land registry title.

How important is a proper title search?

In order to put the importance of land registry title search into perspective, let’s imagine the following situation:

Having decided that the best strategy for his property acquisition strategy is to build rather than buy an existing home in Nigeria, Mr. Femi has saved up to build his dream home. He searches and finds a very good offer for a plot of land in his location of choice, let’s say Lagos,  and within his budget. So happy that the criteria he set, before he embarked on the house purchase expedition had been met, Mr. Femi approaches the property developer/seller. At the point of purchase of the plot of land, he asks the developer for the type of title that covers the property and if there are any outstanding debts he should know about.

The developer/seller assures him that there are no outstanding debts and the title has no issues. Based on the words of the seller, the transaction is closed. Mr. Femi is given his payment receipt and survey that covers his parcel of land, and walks away with a smile. Three years down the line, after he had built his dream home, he gets served a notice for repossession of the land from another party with an authentic title that covers the same parcel of land. Mr. Femi gets into a legal battle and stands the risk of losing his dream home. What will be the result of the legal battle? 

importance of the title search in property

Mr. Femi is at risk of losing everything including the home of his dreams. What did Mr. Femi do wrong? – He did not conduct a proper title search before proceeding with the transaction. Once the price feels right and the location fits, people jump into the land/property transactions, ignorant of the possible consequences. Some come out bruised, very few come out unscathed.

The truth is we have so many Mr. Femis out there. Navigating the house-buying process is not as hard as many might think. You just need the right information to guide you every step in the process so as to mitigate against possible loss of investment.

What does a land title search tell a buyer?

A title search tells the prospective buyer whether the seller/developer has the legal right to sell the property in question; that is, if the seller/developer has the legal right to transfer the interest in such property to another. It also informs the buyer of any encumbrance on the real estate i.e is it subject to government etc. It is this simple; an encumbered property title normally is a sign of a storm in the nearest future. In real estate transactions, the onus is on the buyer to ask all the necessary questions and some can only be answered when the result of the title search is received. The law advices buyers to beware – “Caveat Emptor”

How long should a title search take?

Different states have different levels of efficiency in this respect. In Lagos, the title search should not take more than a week. However, the timeline for conducting a title search can change considerably as it is also dependent on quite a lot of administrative and bureaucratic factors, which are beyond the control of the person applying to conduct the search.

What happens where a buyer after purchase discovers there is an encumbrance?

Often times the buyer might have the option of ratification of title “Making good the title”. However, in a case whereby the seller never had an authentic right to be transferred to another and such rights resides in another and such a person, group or institution is not willing to ratify, the buyer loses everything, even the structure based on the legal principle – “Quic Quid Plantatur Solo Solo Cedit” – whatever is affixed to land becomes part of it, is one maxim buyers must have at the back of their minds when making that decision to buy. However, where possible, the buyer could approach the legitimate owner and renegotiate a fresh purchase of the land.

title deeds in property in nigeria

What is a good title to have over land?

One question quite a few potential buyers of real estate ask is, “what title can be considered a good title over land”? Here is our answer, a registered Deed of Assignment or Conveyance or Lease or Sub-lease with the Governor’s consent affixed is a good title. Potential property buyers should, however, ensure that this registered title is not wrongfully or fraudulently obtained as a third party can try to establish a Lawsuit where this is the case.  

Remember, there is no ignorance in law so we need to equip ourselves with the right knowledge. Ensure you do a proper land registry title search before you conclude on that land transaction and that such a search is done by a professional, preferably a legal practitioner. Do not sell yourself short by engaging the wrong hands.

Also, another means of confirming the land title and ensuring that the land is not under government acquisition is to conduct a search at the Surveyor General’s office to ensure the red copy of the Survey to the land is lodged with the Surveyor General’s office.

Kindly follow this space as we seek to share more information that will help you make informed decisions as regards to real estate transactions. In our subsequent blog, we will try to define, in the simplest form, some legal terminologies used in real estate transactions.

Written by Babajide Aloba; Reviewed by Oserogho & Associates

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Following on our last discussion with respect to how access to a site as well as how security considerations can influence our property purchase decision, we will now look at some other factors that are equally important when prospecting a potential site.

The first of these factors is the nature and availability of infrastructure around the site whilst the second deals with the impact of groundwater on the subject site as well as the soil characteristics prevalent in the locale.

Whether looking for an off plan property for sale in Lagos, or your next real estate investment opportunity, we strongly recommend reading these series of posts about site evaluation.

CONTIGUOUS INFRASTRUCTURE IN DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

This factor is something that very few people put into consideration when going to look at a site but which is nevertheless critical when trying to arrive at an estimate of the possible development time horizon especially if the property in question is in an area which is not yet fully developed.

What are the elements that make up what we call contiguous infrastructure?

In more developed societies, development infrastructure would be referred to as utilities and would consist of Electricity, Water Supply, Gas and the Sewer System. Unfortunately, In Nigeria there is a general lack of infrastructure and we are not yet at a stage where the connection points to the Gas, Sewer lines and in most cases public water mains are of any relevance. Therefore we would have to limit our discussion to proximity of Electricity connection points to the potential site location.

Electricity: What to look out for when inspecting a prospective location

Basically on your first trip to the site, you should watch out to see if there are electricity poles leading to the site and which serve the purpose of carrying cables that terminate around the site’s vicinity.

We should however make it clear that even with the presence of such electricity cables; there is still the need for more clarity as to their relevance to your prospective site. In this wise, if the property one is going to inspect is located in a large estate or community, perhaps being marketed by a developer, it should be borne in mind that such a large Estate would require its own transformer and the challenge would then be to ascertain that such a transformer already exists on the estate. However, if the transformer has not yet been installed and the developer is promising that it would soon be, one should check that the electricity cables terminating at or near the site are high voltage cables rather than low voltage which would be more appropriate for single dwellings in an already built-up neighborhood.

Distinguish between high and low voltage cables

To distinguish between high voltage and low voltage cables, you should be aware that high voltage cables are usually three in number, are strung parallel to each other and are normally placed above the poles upon which they are strung. Low voltage cables are on the other hand four in number, stacked vertically above one another and strung at the top side of the pole carrying them.

Should there be an absence of high voltage cables in the vicinity of such an estate, then you should immediately have it in mind that the development horizon for the project would most likely be longer than what is being propounded by the developer or in the alternative the Estate would be experiencing large voltage swings due to excessive demand beyond the capacity of the low voltage cables.

Where no electricity cables of any sort can be seen at the site or on the route to same, then you may safely conclude that purchasing the plot being inspected is most likely a speculative venture and it may therefore still take quite some time before the location becomes habitable.

SOIL CONDITIONS & SITE DRAINAGE

Doubtless, another critical factor that should be given serious consideration when prospecting a potential site is the type of soil that is predominant in the area; its inherent ability to support building loads and what type of building foundations have generally been employed or can be employed in the neighbourhood.

In this regard and with respect to the Lagos metropolis, the simplistic yardstick used by the average layman appears to be that foundation types for properties on the island tend to generally require piled or raft foundations and are more expensive to construct whilst foundation types required on the mainland are generally cheaper to construct. This classification or mental paradigm is however quite simplistic and does not hold true when subjected to empirical scrutiny or considered in the light of practical experience.

What in actual fact is indeed critical are the following factors;

The Water Table and proximity of Water bodies

In large parts of the mainland such as Ebute-metta, Yaba and Surulere, soil conditions can be as poor as or even worse than what is found on most parts of the Island such as Lekki, Victoria Island and Ikoyi.

Large parts of Ebute-metta and Ikoyi in fact share similar soil properties and require almost identical foundation types in many cases since they were both formed by alluvial deposits along the Lagoon coastline. Even in areas on the mainland that have generally stable and apparently sound soil types, large pockets of weak soil abound in mainland neighbourhoods such as Ikeja, Anthony, Maryland, Opebi, Oregun and others.

The critical factor underlying the weak soil types found in all these areas thus turns out to be not so much whether they lie on the mainland or on the Island but rather their proximity to large water bodies such as Streams and marshlands, or are to be found in low lying areas water saturated areas like valleys or gullies.

The presence of weak soil types in areas close to water bodies and where consequently the water table is likely to be quite high arises from the fact that in most non-monolithic soil types, the action of water on the soil particles and overall soil cohesion tends to reduce soil bearing capacity greatly, even as much as by fifty percent of the normal soil strength except where such soils are granular in nature and exhibit minimal compressibility under loading.

In the light of the foregoing therefore, when evaluating the site of a property being considered for purchase the intending buyer needs to ascertain how close the land or built up property is to a large water body such as the Ocean, the Lagoon, natural water channels, drainage canals, Rivers, Streams etc or whether or not they are located in low lying areas such as valleys, gulleys or any location where water from higher elevations naturally tend to collect.

If the site is close to large water bodies, is submerged or in an area with a high water table or perhaps subject to seasonal flooding, then one should immediately be aware that there would be a strong possibility of special foundation type for the building and one should then decide whether one has the resources to embark on such a venture and where one decided to proceed then the advice of professionals would certainly be required.

It should be clearly understood that we are not in any way saying that the presence of water on a prospective site should be a deterrent to its purchase as after all structures of various types are indeed built on water all over the world, whilst for example the sites for our Arcadia Mews and Clover Courts Estates amongst others were totally submerged when acquired. What we are saying is that the presence of water should ordinarily serve as a red flag to the ordinary person prospecting to purchase a piece of land or built up property.

There are indeed visual and environmental clues that can indicate whether a submerged piece of land consists mainly of compressible or non-compressible soil materials. There also exist field techniques for achieving the displacement of organic materials during sand filling or reclamation if the compressible soil layers are not too thick. However, such clues and techniques are well beyond the scope of a discourse such as this and one would run the risk of inadvertently misleading the uninitiated if we were to delve into them.

The best advice we can give in this regard therefore is for one to seek the advice of experienced professionals if faced with situations where the presence of groundwater may pose a challenge to a potential building project.

Soil characteristics

In determining the soil characteristics of any prospective location, it should be noted that the best approach in this wise is to undertake a full soil investigation carried out by a qualified professional. This is indeed now a key requirement for planning approval in Lagos state for structures that go beyond the ground and first floors.

As the decision to purchase a particular piece of land usually needs to be made well before the issue of a soil investigation comes into focus, we will proceed to attempt indicating below key criteria to consider prior to making the decision whether to go ahead with the proposed land purchase or not.

Where the property is an already built up one though, we would still strongly advise the engagement of a knowledgeable professional such as an Estate Surveyor, Architect or Structural Engineer to inspect the property and provide necessary advice to guide the purchase.

Soil Nature: What to look out for when inspecting a prospective property

General nature of the soil in the neighbourhood

By careful observation, try to determine the general nature of the soil in the neighbourhood. Is it Sandy, Silty, Clayey, Marshy or Rocky? Each soil type has implications for the kind of foundation the building would require with rocky soil generally being the most favourable soil type and marshy soil being the least favourable due to the presence of water. Sandy (granular) soil is indicative that the site is unlikely to be waterlogged when it rains as surface water would quickly percolate. However this is no measure of bearing capacity which is best determined by means of a soil investigation as earlier stated.

Assess the soil whilst walking

Whilst walking over the soil, how does it feel underneath your feet? Does it feel generally firm or does it yield as you step on it even if slightly? Soft yielding soil may be an indication of water underneath or a telltale sign of decomposing vegetation or peat material under the top layers of soil that are more readily visible to the eye.

Soil colour

Observe the colour of the soil as this is also an indicator of soil characteristics for the experienced. Sandy soil is generally light coloured and indicates high silica content in the soil.

Reddish soil points to abundance of iron oxides and is characteristic of laterite but may be loose and easily susceptible to erosion or extremely firm and tending to being rocky in nature.

Where there are shades of yellow and tan in soil, this indicates the presence of ground moisture or periodic water saturation which is characteristic of clayey soil and has water retention properties. Clay tends to expand and contract with variations in moisture content of the soil across the seasons and could be detrimental to some foundation types.

Brown or Black soils indicate organic materials in the soil with Humus – the final stage of the breakdown of organic materials – presenting as black.

The high presence of organic materials in soil calls for caution as these are inimical to soil strength and stability due to continuing decomposition. Each soil type tends to require a different approach to building foundation design and one is thus advised to rely on the advice of experts in this regard.

Soil colours also reflect the presence of groundwater in various degrees. Bright colours such as strong reds indicate well drained soils or soils that do not experience prolonged water saturation. Where soil exhibits yellow colours, this derives from yellowish iron oxides in the soil and is indicative that the soil is not well drained or experiences periodic water saturation. Blue-grey to blackish colours indicate poorly drained soils or soils exposed to prolonged saturation for most of the year and the foregoing could serve as guides in deciding whether or not to proceed with any location being inspected.

Proximity of water

As earlier mentioned, the presence of groundwater greatly affects the load bearing properties of most soils, therefore ascertaining the presence or otherwise of proximate water bodies and their likely effect on building foundations in the neighbourhood is imperative prior to making a commitment to purchase or not purchase a particular property.

When inspecting a prospective site therefore, it is advisable such site visit be done within or around the rainy season as much as possible, so one can see firsthand the soil conditions when it rains and how well or otherwise the site and its environs are drained. If the visit is being done in the dry season, take careful note of the existence or otherwise of Water reed plants in the locale as their presence gives away the fact that the area is a wetland irrespective of whether or not the site is dry at the time of visit.

If one is going to inspect a building in a built up neighbourhood, take a close look at the buildings on the access road to the specific site and try to ascertain if they have water marks which would be an indication of seasonal flooding. The observation of signs of rising damp or flaking and peeling of plaster coats and paints at the base of a building indicate a high water table and the high likelihood of periodic flooding.

Conclusion

The foregoing concludes our discussion with respect to site selection considerations and represents a snapshot of features an average layman can look out for when inspecting a prospective property location and which can guide him or her to an extent in making the purchase decision.

The approach outlined in this discourse is also essential the blueprint we use at Beachway Homes in making our site selection decisions though of course the depth of knowledge in applying them would obviously differ. Having said this and considering the average resources one needs to commit to a property purchase or building project whilst this discourse can serve as a guide, it certainly should not be used as a substitute for sound and well-informed professional advice.

We nevertheless do hope you find it useful enough as we continue in our various blog posts to endeavour to elucidate in simple terms the various complex considerations required to make sound property investment decisions.

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Buying property in Lagos

In previous posts, we have looked at property acquisition strategies and given tips on how to own your dream home in Nigeria. We have likewise given some tips to follow when looking at acquiring property either through purchase or construction and also discussed the need to properly ascertain the land title before jumping onto the property acquisition train. In examining further possible pitfalls even if all the foregoing have been carefully followed, we have discussed material price fluctuations and how these can affect real estate development projects.

In the event price fluctuations do arise on a project, how can a buyer deal with issues caused by price fluctuations?

As many may have read or perhaps heard about, quite a few buyers/subscribers have been left frustrated despite having paid huge sums of money towards the purchase of their dream home or a seemingly great-looking real estate investment opportunity in Lagos or other areas in Nigeria, only for such a project to either never materialize without any credible explanations or plans for redress, or to be delivered several months or years beyond the agreed delivery date. It could even be a double whammy situation whereby a potential buyer pays an additional sum and the project still gets delivered a year after the actual delivery date.  Also, some developers in response to price fluctuation reduce the quality of materials used which could eventually lead to a collapse in the long run. This could indeed make the house-buying process a gruesome one.

Possible material price fluctuations issues for buyers

Some of the issues that material price fluctuations can lead to in an ongoing real estate project include;

As reputable property developers in Lekki, Lagos, at Beachway Homes we know the implications material price fluctuations can have on projects.  Whilst the discussion below may not outline all possible steps available in dealing with or avoiding issues caused by price fluctuations, they do provide some guidance for potential buyers in mitigating their risks.

1. Research the Developer’s project history and seek testimonials

Such research should provide valuable information regarding the Developer’s track record and whether he/she has a history of defaulting or delivering. Testimonials should also give an insight into what previous clients of the developers think of the company and should immediately throw up red flags if these are largely unfavourable.

2. Conduct regular physical inspections

Potential home buyers and investors buying off plan property in Lagos or any other area in Nigeria  should understand that the brochure and plans sent to them by a developer are intended to cast the Project in the most favourable light. However, nothing can replace physical inspection of the project once it has commenced. If the buyer is not resident in Nigeria, the subscriber can ask family or friends that are residents in the country to help carry out such inspections. 

Through regular inspections, a subscriber can spot imminent issues early enough. For example, a situation where there is a possibility of the project being abandoned by the developer due to little or no progress in work for a considerable period of time can be spotted early upon inspection. At this point, the subscriber can then weigh the options available, based on the sale terms of the project which could include withdrawal from the scheme early and getting a refund, putting pressure on the developer to deliver, preparing to pay a reasonable agreed amount as additional sum above the sale price or in really bad cases, seek legal redress.

3. Make contingency provision for possible additional payments

Potential buyers may also look at making some additional contingency sum available over the agreed sale price to cater for possible price variations in the course of the project. Though it seems a hard pill to swallow, in some cases where these types of issue(s) arise, there might be very genuine reasons for such review in the sale price. Whilst experienced developers allow for possible price fluctuations on an ongoing project, nothing could have prepared many developers well enough for the sharp increase in forex rate experienced in Nigeria in 2016. Though some experienced developers still weathered the storm, it was a really tough one as many could not, with the Dollar ($) to Naira (N) exchange rate rising from N344 to a dollar, to N498 in the space of less than six months, and further leading to an equally sharp increase in cost of construction materials.

4. Consider a review of the project sales terms

In the case where price fluctuations on an ongoing project tend towards the developer’s inability to deliver the project, either at all or within the projected time, potential subscribers can pull out of such projects and diligently search for a more reliable developer to partner with.

The error in such a case may have been made right from selection of the developer. Schemes that are seemingly priced low are not necessarily a favourable option, so in a case whereby the potential subscriber has made a mistake in selection of a developer but has the option to withdraw from the scheme based on the options available in the sales offer, it is best to take this step as soon as possible.

In the words of the former U.S President – Theodore Roosevelt, “Every person who invests in well-selected real estate in a growing section of a prosperous community adopts the surest and safest method of becoming independent, for real estate is the basis of wealth.” 

Many potential real estate buyers that have been faced with issues of prolonged project delivery, non-delivery of the project and much more tend to become afraid of getting into real estate investment at any level. The good news is, it does not have to be so once you have the right knowledge.

Written by Babajide Aloba 

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How do you start off when trying to find the ideal property or property location?

Over the years, we have had numerous enquiries from friends, clients and acquaintances seeking advice and guidance as to whether or not it was advisable to purchase a property in  a particular location in Lagos.

As residential property developers in Lagos , our  experience over the years in site evaluation has thus prompted the thought that it may be useful to put together some key considerations in this regard which would be accessible to our various stakeholders as well as the general public. This write-up is therefore the result of this emergent thought and our subsequent attempt to articulate the various relevant site selection factors one needs to consider. 

As there are quite a few points to discuss in this regard however and in order to make for easier reading, we have decided to present the article in two parts of which this is the first and in which we discuss Access factors and Security considerations whilst in the second part we will discuss Proximate infrastructure considerations as well as Soil conditions. Note that whilst the discussion is mainly with reference to properties in and around the Lagos metropolis (especially the Lekki Axis), the principles discussed therein can as well be applied to locations in other parts of Nigeria  as may be required.

Site Selection Factors to Consider When Buying Property

The issue of the ideal location for a property that one desires to buy is usually a complex one and depends on several factors

In the event one is planning to buy such property for personal use, factors such as proximity to one’s workplace, or to available schools for one’s children may come into play. Where the property under consideration is to be purchased as a Real Estate Investment , a major consideration would be prevailing rental rates in the neighbourhoods being considered as well as the concomitant rental demand. 

For Nigerians in the Diaspora seeking to purchase property in the country, a critical factor may be the desire to acquire a property in the city where the prospective buyer’s roots lie or has ongoing business interests whilst in a few cases the relative orderliness of certain Nigerian cities compared to others may be the relevant attraction.

Beyond these broad locational factors however, there are more specific factors that one should ideally evaluate in order to ensure the property to be bought is fairly well located and one does not make the mistake of buying into an area with little prospects for value appreciation or that may indeed turn out to be a bad investment due to the environment in which the property is located. 

In addition, when prospecting for a property, there is the need to ensure suitability of the property site and location in terms of soil and drainage conditions to mitigate against avoidable expenditure during or after the construction stage. In this wise, we will in the following discussions endeavour to outline the key parameters that need to be looked at when going to inspect a property location especially where the property is a piece of undeveloped land rather than a built-up property. Note that the points discussed in the ensuing paragraphs with respect to undeveloped land are generally equally valid for single plots of land being offered for sale by individual owners and landowner families as well as the numerous site and services schemes being offered for sale by developers in various parts of the Country.

ACCESS FACTORS::  – INGRESS, EGRESS & LOCATION AMBIENCE

The very first issue one should consider when looking at buying a property is the Access route that leads to the property. This however needs to be considered from several angles as follows.

In the first case, how many access roads lead to the neighbourhood or estate where the subject property is located? Are there multiple access roads or is there effectively just one major road leading thereto? In the ensuing paragraphs,  we discuss the pros and cons of having one or multiple access roads to a neighbourhood or estate.

One access road to the Estate

In our experience, although having just one access road leading to a neighbourhood might appear to enhance the security of the prospective site, in practical terms and as the area develops, that single access road will almost certainly become a bottleneck in future, at least at certain times of the day. The exception would be if the neighbourhood in question is a very small one of not more than say 20 to 30 dwelling units.

Ready examples in this regard would be:

In all the above cases, all that is required to trigger traffic mayhem is to have a breakdown of an articulated vehicle or perhaps a vehicular accident and in no time the entire access road becomes impassable. When checking out a property therefore, it is important to look out for scenarios such as this, especially if you intend to live in the area where you are planning to purchase a property and would need to be commuting daily to your workplace through that single access road.

Multiple access roads to the Estate

In the light of the foregoing, it might then appear that an ideal situation is for a neighbourhood or community to have as many access points as possible. However as in most things in life, moderation is key and for a neighbourhood with too many ingress and egress points, security could become a major issue especially if the neighbourhood is just developing.

In our view, two and probably a maximum of three access routes to a community or neighbourhood appears to give a good balance, as beyond this number, access control to the community becomes more difficult.

An Estate Surveyor friend opined several years ago that the multiplicity of ingress points into Lekki Phase 2 Estate may actually have hindered its development despite having virtually all infrastructure such as paved roads, concrete drains, water works and public electricity in place early in its development. One is quite inclined to agree with this view being aware that at a point in time armed robbery attacks were so frequent in the estate that a detachment of mobile policemen were more or less permanently stationed there for nightly patrols and this may have been attributable to the fact that the estate had no perimeter fence and could be accessed through several little known routes from the surrounding communities of Ogombo, Lafiaji, Olokonla and others. This is therefore a second point to consider in evaluating access to a prospective property location.

Access to the property or Estate through existing communities

Thirdly, due to the fact that many new private estates in the Lagos area are sited on land purchased from landowner families whose ownership claims tend to date back far in time, such estates also tend to be sited very close to or extend from the ancestral villages of such landowner families.

In this regard one thing to note if the developer of the estate has not taken prior care to locate the estate somewhat away from the ancestral village is that it is less than ideal to have to drive through the village to get to a property or estate where one resides as not only does this usually diminish the ambience and value of the property location, it also tends to have unwanted security implications as those living in such estates tend to stand out in stark contrast to the residents of their host communities and could become targets of attack in the event of social upheavals.

The nature of the access road itself

The final point to consider under access factors to any property location being prospected is the nature of the Access road itself. Obviously a paved or tarred access road leading to a property site is much more desirable than an unpaved one which would increase the wear and tear on residents’ vehicles and also has the propensity to easily become impassable during the rainy season. This is therefore something one should also look out for when going to visit a property site.

One must however add that where the property being prospected is still under construction by a reputable developer, the developer may have given assurances of constructing the road upon or towards completion of the project which would come to more or less the same thing as if the road were already fully constructed and paved as at the time of inspecting same.

Several examples of fully paved access roads that were constructed by reputable developers do abound in the Lekki area and do not require specific elaboration. Beyond just the access road however is the question of associated drainage which is as equally important as paving of the road itself. This is as we are also aware of several instances of fully paved roads constructed by private developers without any associated drainage. This approach is often taken by such developers as a means of saving costs whilst still providing the psychological comfort a paved access road gives to prospects. The result however is usually that within a relatively short period, sections of the road may be washed away during heavy rains or may become partially flooded thus negating the actual purpose of providing the road to begin with. When visiting a prospective property therefore, it is essential to look out for seemingly minor details of this nature.

SECURITY

A second factor that requires adequate consideration when evaluating potential sites for property acquisition is the issue of Security of the location. 

In this wise, how secure is the immediate community in which the property you are considering is located? Does the community or Estate have a secure boundary or can it be accessed at will by all and sundry?

Gated Estates offer an immediate security advantage

We have discussed this somewhat in our comments on multiple ingress routes above whilst in addition we do tend to advise prospective property investors to endeavour to purchase property within gated Estates. One of the reasons for this advice is the immediate security advantage staying in a gated Estate confers, and this is due to the fact that the principal cordon of Security is pushed to the perimeter of the estate rather than the particular property boundary as is the case with a stand-alone property.

Thus, choosing a property location within a large gated estate community has the advantage of not only providing communal and usually enhanced security at a lower individual cost, it also provides a level of security that enables residents’ children to play safely outside the house without their parents being unduly apprehensive.

The above concludes the first part of our discussion on site selection considerations, whilst the following part of the write-up will throw more light on the importance of proximate infrastructure to a potential property site as well as the critical nature of soil conditions and site drainage.

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Following upon our discussion regarding the two main modes of property acquisition available to those interested in acquiring real estate as outlined in our article Buy or Build – which approach works better for you, we would like to engage in some more in-depth consideration of the factors to consider when embarking on the process of property acquisition mainly through purchase. Notwithstanding, some of the principles to be discussed here would also prove relevant for those intending to buy land for subsequent construction. This discussion we believe, is particularly relevant for Nigerians in the Diaspora looking to invest in property back home as there are countless stories of such Nigerians that have lost funds intended for investment in some form of Real Estate or the other and one phrase that should resonate in the mind of any intending Investor in the Nigerian real estate market is “Buyer Beware”.

Whilst majority of the unpleasant experiences referred to above have to do mainly with the purchase of parcels of land, there are also many other instances that involve the construction process and these are some of the factors that make purchase of an already completed property relatively safer. Nonetheless, even that option in itself is not totally foolproof. Certainly the Nigerian property market still has a long way to go when it comes to security of title but we believe that by following the road map indicated below, you can all things being equal reduce your risks and likewise the possibility of any negative experience to the barest minimum.

1. Determine your budget for the proposed Property acquisition:
Almost everyone desires to own a property but not all may eventually acquire the capacity to purchase one. It is important therefore for the prospective buyer to pre-determine how much he can generate for the intended Real Estate purchase either through personal funds or with the aid of a financial institution. Taking this very important first step should help indicate from the word go whether one could successfully opt for purchase of a fully built house or if one’s financial capacity is limited to purchase of land and subsequently building to one’s taste and at one’s pace. It is of the utmost importance in our view to ensure that one does not get in and then get stuck halfway as this may eventually lead to a significant loss of hard-earned resources.


2. Commence with some preliminary research of your own
In other words – ‘look before you leap’. This is another critical step in purchasing a home that many people ignore but that is really very important. This preliminary research should cover several facets as follows;

The foregoing is an exercise that one can easily carry out oneself via the Internet, in the comfort of one’s home or office and by visiting property portals and websites devoted to the Nigerian property Market. Useful background information can be obtained in this manner that will serve as a foundation for further analysis in the next step.

3. Seek Professional Advice
Even where one is buying a property for one’s own use, real estate remains an Investment and especially where one is buying real estate for Investment purposes, this requirement becomes doubly important. It is highly unlikely that you would proceed to Invest in the Stock market without seeking advice from a seasoned stockbroker who would guide you as to the best stocks to buy at a particular time and why you should buy a particular stock rather than the other. Similarly if you intend to invest some funds or purchase financial instruments for investment purposes, you would seek out a knowledgeable financial adviser towards this purpose. An investment in Real estate is in principle no different and to ensure you optimize the expected returns on your Investment, expert guidance is most advisable. Carrying out preliminary research on your own as advised earlier helps prepare you to identify the right questions you may need to ask and could also help give you an adequate background from which you can determine the quality of professional advice you are being offered eventually.


4. Ensure you do a proper title search on the identified property
When making a decision to buy land or landed property in any clime but especially in Nigeria, one very important issue to take into consideration is the ‘Title’ that covers such a property. This is an area that gives a lot of individuals concern, and we expand more on the issue of land title in our blog on Navigating the house buying process. A “Title” simply connotes the bundle of rights that come with ownership of a particular piece of property and a popular maxim that buyers should be aware of in this context is – Quic quid Plantatur Solo Solo Cedit, which in simple terms mean that, whatever is affixed to land becomes part of it” and in the event one inadvertently builds on land rightfully owned by another party, the implication is that whatever you have built then becomes the property of the rightful owner of the parcel of land.

It is most advisable in carrying out a proper title search to ensure you employ the services of a qualified lawyer who should be able to ascertain there are no encumbrances or undeclared lien on the property Title. Beyond this, you should request the lawyer to obtain for you a Certified True copy (CTC) of the original land title from the relevant land registry whilst also producing a written search report on the property stating his/her findings for your records. In conclusion, one can hardly overstress the fact that establishing genuine Title for any property one intends to purchase is a step that should never be compromised, as interest in land/landed property is probably the most important aspect of the purchase.

5. Consider buying a property within a Serviced/gated Estate
Though different individuals have their preferences in this regard, from our own experience there are many advantages to buying a property within a serviced estate especially for prospective buyers who are not resident in the country. These include;

Good title – Experienced developers of communal estates generally ensure they have sound title prior to commencement of their development. This is in order to avoid possible litigation by their subscribers for title defects that may be discovered in future. Therefore, if you buy into these types of schemes, you are almost certainly assured that the title would be a sound one. This is however not absolutely certain, as in recent years there have been some cases where ownership of some large tracts of land in Lagos changed hands after legal cases that had spanned decades were eventually concluded. Instances of these are the recent Supreme Court judgements with respect to the Abebe Village area on Lagos Mainland and Osapa Village and its environs in Lekki Peninisula . These however appear to be exceptional cases and in any event, the reality of the situation dictated that pragmatic solutions be arrived at that did not result in displacement of any long standing homeowner or resident.

Communal security and maintenance – Most, if not all, serviced estates make use of professional security guards and also ensure the communal areas of the estate are well maintained. This automatically means that there is an eye on your investment at all times as opposed to when your property is on its own and you need to have someone live in an attached Boys quarters if it exists or continually have to send people to the property just to keep an eye on same and monitor its condition.

Value preservation – Scheduled and daily maintenance of properties within serviced estates helps preserve property value. Clearly a property that is not properly maintained is very likely to lose value and where it is being put out for rent, such loss of value is in addition likely to diminish expected returns.

6. Avoid being seduced by ‘Mouth-watering deals’
Most of us would agree that nothing good comes free and also that ordinarily you cannot get something for nothing. Nevertheless on numerous occasions our opinion has been sought as regards some developments where potential subscribers were being offered free additional units if they made multiple purchases whilst unfortunately it has also being our experience to have encountered numerous others who had gotten their fingers burnt in taking up such offers. Whilst one would have imagined that otherwise quite intelligent people would have been able to logically analyse and see through many of such offers (though some are indeed genuine), more people than expected had tales of woe to tell in this regard due to the fact that they apparently allowed themselves to be carried away by the lure of potential easy gain. In the light of these experiences therefore, it may be helpful to make one or two comments regarding such phenomenon.

With regards to sale of plots of land, it is very possible for a developer to make offers of free additional plots if one purchases a certain number of multiple plots due to the fact that in negotiating for the purchase of a large tract of land, the developer had been able to secure very significant discounts from the landowner family, and a portion of this discount, he may now seek to pass on to some of the purchasers in order to hasten up his sales and free up cash. One should note however that such areas where huge purchase discounts from landowners are possible, more often than not tend to be located more remotely from significantly built up areas as well as proximate infrastructure and thus the development horizon for such plots of land may be longer than that for areas nearer the main city.

Concerning the purchase of buildings however, it should be noted that the construction of a building is a complex and involving endeavour which requires considerable resources, and for any developer desirous of remaining in business for the long run, it is important to ensure recovery of the resources expended on every succeeding project and enough returns to execute the next one. Thus where a developer’s sale prices are more or less at the same level as other developers in the locality and a promo of say ‘buy two get one free’ is being advertised which translates to a discount of about 33%, then the question the prospective buyer has to ask himself is whether with similar sale prices as other developers, this particular developer has been able to achieve a markup of at least 43% on each unit after allowing for all construction, infrastructure and land costs. On the other hand, where a promo of ‘buy one get one free’ is being advertised – a discount of 50%, the question becomes one of whether a markup of over 60% could have been realised since the developer still needs to make a good enough margin to make the development worth his while. Simple logical analysis of this type should easily reveal to any prospective buyer the credibility or otherwise of the offers being made.

In concluding, our readers should note that whilst the forgoing may not be an exhaustive discussion on steps to take when trying to acquire a property, we do believe it can nevertheless serve as a useful guide if the principles enunciated therein are carefully followed.  

And on that note, we do wish you the very best of luck in making that Real Estate decision!

Posted in GeneralTips

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Investing in Real Estate especially in terms of owning one’s own home remains a major objective for most individuals. In this regard, there are two major modes of property acquisition in the Nigerian property space. One could acquire a property through outright purchase of an already developed property, or on the other hand one could build same to one’s particular tastes. Whilst the thrust of the majority of our discussions in our various Blog articles is towards those desirous of acquiring property through the purchase of already built-up properties, We do acknowledge nevertheless that there are still quite a few individuals interested in acquiring property either for personal use or Investment who do give serious consideration to taking the alternative route of purchasing undeveloped land and building to their own specifications. Consequently, we would want to look at the pros and cons of either approach and highlight the circumstances under which one may be preferable to the other and also provide some guidance for those who may still be undecided as to which approach would work best for them. Elsewhere we will discuss our top tips to owning you own home, navigating the house buying process, as well as strategies for selecting the right builder

Factors Influencing property acquisition modalities.
Over the years, the preferred mode of property acquisition for majority of individuals has generally been in correlation with the prevailing economic and social conditions in the country at any given time and have apparently been generally influenced by the four key factors enumerated below;

An understanding of how the above factors have affected property acquisition modalities over time would help situate our recommendations regarding the optimal property acquisition mode to adopt for one’s purposes

Property acquisition trends in Lagos from Independence up to the Eighties.
Property acquisition in Lagos from the late Sixties up to about the mid-eighties, was tilted more towards acquiring land and subsequently erecting the desired structure gradually. This was due to the fact that apart from a short period in the late sixties to early seventies where the government facilitated mortgages for Civil servants to acquire property in certain schemes, few individuals had the financial resources for outright purchase of houses whilst there was a relative dearth of fully developed housing schemes that citizens could subscribe to.
During this period the state of the four key factors enumerated above was as follows;

Property Acquisition in Lagos from the Eighties
With the end of the oil boom of the seventies and the ensuing collapse of the Nigerian Economy, the dynamics of the property acquisition process in Lagos and its environs underwent some fundamental and enduring changes. These changes affected the average citizen’s ability to acquire their own property and over time led to the advent of private real estate developers as well as an increased preference for the option of property acquisition through outright purchase. It is from this period that one can say that the possibility of finding houses for sale in Lagos increased dramatically. The changes that led to the new situation can likewise be examined along the lines of the four factors influencing property acquisition modes as earlier discussed above.

The foregoing scenario was the prevailing situation in the late nineties and due to the increased complexity of achieving one’s property acquisition goals through the construction process, this state of affairs eventually served as a catalyst for the emergence of housing estates developed by private entrepreneurs.  
The first fully built-up private estate development to be successfully delivered in in Lagos was The Atlantic Beach Estate and the success of this development highlighted the potentials and suppressed demand for medium to high income housing in the Lagos metropolis.
This encouraged the likes of the UAC group to venture fully into real estate development with the much acclaimed Goshen Beach Estate. Following the delivery of the Goshen Beach Estate, the option of acquiring good quality properties from private developers had been fully established and from around 2001/2002, several large scale real estate developments such as Carlton Gate, Northern Foreshore,  Lekki county, Ocean Bay, Buena Vista, Mayfair Gardens and the like were conceived and delivered in varying stages of completion. This development was a signpost that the pendulum had swung firmly in the direction of property acquisition through purchase rather than through construction and the era of ‘Properties for sale in Lagos’ had fully arrived. The purchase trend has now more or less become the norm amongst middle income Nigerians seeking to purchase property in the Lagos area and we have witnessed the influx of a great number of ‘developers’ into the property market in the past decade especially along the Lekki Axis.

To Buy or To Build – Determining what works best for you.

As observed much earlier, though the preponderant mode of acquiring property now seems to be through purchase, there still remains a significant percentage of persons who still prefer to travel the construction route. And having now acquired a better understanding of the current state of the factors affecting Real Estate acquisition, the following are guidelines to consider in deciding which route may best be suited for one.

Buying a Property – Either fully completed or off-plan

PROPERTY IN LEKKI PHASE 1, LAGOS

Building your desired property to your specification

PROPERTY UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN OSAPA, LEKKI