HOUSE HUNTING IN LAGOS: The Okay, The Bad and The Super-Ridiculous.
“House hunting in Lagos is an extreme sport.”
“House hunting in Lagos is draining.“
“House hunting in Lagos is a scam.”
I had heard these statements and more. Over and over. However, I had honestly never gone house hunting in Lagos so I had no way of knowing that when people made these statements, they meant every single word of it.
I recently started a new job quite far away from my present house, so I’ve been trying to get a new place to live close by. Let me start by saying again that I had no way of knowing that when people made these statements about house hunting in Lagos, they meant every single word of it.
I started my hunt looking for a shared space so I was looking at sites like Muster, Roomies Connect etc. Even though some of the places looked pretty decent, unfortunately, most of them seemed more inclined to provide accommodation on the island or around Surulere/Yaba (which are the mainland areas that are pretty much closest to the island). I was actually looking to get somewhere around Ikeja.
Are mainland people not allowed to live? I’ll have to ask them. But that’s a question for another day because that wasn’t all. For some of these places, the prices were so ridiculous for a room that I thought why not just rent a whole house. I can’t take a shared space and still pay such an exorbitant amount. This, my darlings, is how my real hunt began in earnest.
My first stop, word of mouth.
Me to a person I thought was my friend: Hey, I’m trying to get a place oo. In case you know anybody trying to rent out their place.
Person I thought was my friend: Ohh I know someone. It’s a two bedroom flat at Opebi.
Me: Oh great! How much is it per year?
Person I thought was my friend: 4.5 million. But I can talk to him to take 4.2
Me: For a year?
Person I thought was my friend: Yes na.
Me: *realizes ‘person I thought was my friend’ is actually ‘person who is not my friend’* Oh wow. Thank you very much. I think I’ll just keep looking.
Rule 1 in house hunting: Be sure that ‘person you thought was your friend’ is actually your friend. Be sure y’all. Be sure.
I finally realised that Word of Mouth wasn’t cutting it and so I went on to Real Estate and property letting sites. I visited sites like property pro and Nigerian Property Centre and I must say guys, it looked like luck had started to shine on me. I saw a lot of really okay places at okay prices and sooo I started calling the agents.
Slight problem I did not account for – Some of them wanted to collect money! They Called it a refundable fee for after I get the place but what if I don’t want the place?
One of these guys convinced us (At this point I was hunting with my friend Somto) that he’ll keep taking us to houses until we find the place we want. Eventually, we paid the money and started the viewings. To be honest, I had a weird feeling about this guy immediately I saw him. And I was right. Apart from the money we had paid, this guy required that we pay his transport fare to all the houses he took us to see. Can you imagine?
I still remember the very first place we were taken to. It was nothing like the pictures we saw online. When I think about it, I can actually smell the house. Sigh. The windows…the doors…we saw terrible things. The place was so dirty, the windows and doors were made of termite eaten wood and old broken glass. The rooms were so tiny and the bathroom was a sorry sight.
We couldn’t even look around for more than a few minutes. “Get me out of here!” Is the song my head was singing. You mean someone would actually rent this place? At that ridiculous price?
That’s how we began the real hunting journey. This man took us to different houses, each slightly better than the last but still not good enough to live in. For some reason, it seemed like this particular agent only had old disgusting houses to rent.
Rule 2 in house hunting: If you have a bad feeling about an agent, trust it and walk away immediately. They are usually no good.
Rule 3 in house hunting: The house is never as good as the picture. If the picture is even slightly disturbing, trust me the house is worse.
THE SUPER RIDICULOUS
Because we had already paid this guy, we kept going to see other places he said he had. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back. This guy called and said he had a really nice flat that we would love. He said that he now knows our taste so he has found the perfect place blah blah blah. There was joy in my heart y’all. Real Joy!
We went with him to check out the apartment and when I saw the living room, I was actually happy. It was warm, spacious and bright. I was excited that I had finally found the right place. Then we went into the bedroom (which was also nice btw) and I saw a really tiny door inside – like the door to a dollhouse.
I moved forward to take a closer look and brethren, I never experredit! It was the door to the bathroom. Bathroom AND toilet. *singing* I cannot believe my eyes. I could not fit in this door. Like for real. I turned to the guy and asked “So how exactly am I supposed to enter this bathroom to take my bath?” His response – “Err..A really slim person can take this room.” And he looked to Somto (who is slim btw). Somto quickly told him not to even look in her direction because to be honest, I’m not sure even Somto could fit in that door.
Can you believe the guts this man had? He actually tried convincing us to take this house with the dollhouse of a bathroom. Of course we refused, and this is where we parted ways with this man and our money. He obviously had nothing good to offer.
Rule 4 in house hunting: Don’t pay money to view a house, unless you’re sure it’s like really amazing.
After parting ways with this agent, we were back to square one when luck finally shone on us! Somebody introduced us to an agent who took us to this really beautiful house. We went to view it (without paying), we loved it, and it was perfectly within our location and price range. We were so happy to finally find a lovely place we could afford and we were ready to pay.
Apparently, we forgot something!
This is getting too long so I’ll just do a Part B of this post next week but here’s a hint – We still haven’t gotten a place.
Rule 5 in house hunting: When they tell you house hunting in Lagos is an extreme sport, believe it!
What have you heard about house hunting in Lagos? Have you gone house hunting in Lagos? Let’s talk in the comments.
Your tiny eyed storyteller.