Real Estate Secrets Every Young Nigerians Should Know

Real Estate Secrets Every Young Nigerians Should Know – The Finer Wealth Series, a real estate investment and wealth initiative launched by Fine and Country in 2015, aims to enlighten, encourage and equip more female investors get onto the property ladder individually and collectively to leverage the power of numbers.

This theme at this year’s edition which held on the 26th of May, 2017 at the Clear Essence California Spa and Wellness Resort was “BUILDING BLOCKS: Understanding the Fundamentals of Real Estate Investments”. It focused on engaging and enlightening younger female investors and their families with practical knowledge on investing in residential property.

We are pleased to feature below an account from one of the female guests, Joy Ehonwa a lagos based writer and blogger.

I’m not wealthy yet, not by a long shot. Editors don’t earn much, and writers are paid even less, so when a client I have great respect for invited me to a real estate investment seminar last week, I wondered why.

Perhaps she has seen into my future and I’m about to come into money! After all, investing in real estate is for rich, financially free people, isn’t it?

I gladly went, eager to learn something I could use in the not-so-near future.

It turns out I was wrong. Real estate isn’t just for the rich and established! Real estate is for me, a young woman in her 30s trying to build a career and raise a family. Real estate is for you, too. And we can start now.

The event, which held on Friday May 26th, was an introductory seminar, simply encouraging women to be bold enough to “consider a field” as the Proverbs 31 woman did, even if you’re not ready to buy the field just yet.

As I listened to seasoned professionals – Abigail Aneke, former United Bank for Africa (UBA) ED, Subu Giwa-Amu, MD/CEO FBN Mortgage, and the host Udo Okonjo, CEO of Fine & Country – share their real estate investment stories, my mentality underwent a major overhaul. MAJOR.

I cannot possibly share every single thing I learnt at this edition of Fine & Country International’s Finer Wealth Series – it would take 5 articles to do that – but here are just a few priceless nuggets:

1. The Starting Point For Anyone Who Wants To Invest In Real Estate Is Considering It And You Don’t Need Money In Your Pocket To Do That.

Being bold enough to consider it is the foundation.

2. It Is Possible To Invest In Real Estate Without Money.

Udo Okonjo told the story of how a book titled Nothing Down taught her this and changed her outlook, leading her to earn $100,000 on a single investment 18 years ago, without her putting any money down.

3. If You Would Like To Finance Your First Investment, You Can Start Saving For It Right Away.

This meant the most to me as a young person who has never invested in real estate before. Treasury bills were recommended (look this up if you’re not already familiar with it) amongst other low risk investments that can help you multiply your money. I already knew that saving towards a goal makes it easier and more enjoyable, but whereas I thought real estate investment too lofty a goal for me, I no longer think so.

4. Instead Of Thinking Affordability, Think Collaboration.

You don’t have to invest in real estate alone, or even save up for the investment all by yourself. People come together to acquire property all the time! Even if you don’t have any money now, check out this scenario: you and 9 other women save 100k every month. In a year, your group would be able to afford property worth 12 million that none of you can afford individually. And you already know that even if all you do is buy land and sit on it for a few years, it will appreciate and you’ll all be richer for it when you offload and share profits!  This is what Finer Wealth Circles are about.

5. The First Step To Making Money In Real Estate Is Research.

Know your location and ask lots and lots of questions.

6. An Unsuccessful First Venture Need Not Mean Failure.

Udo Okonjo, who is an incredibly successful real estate investor, shared the story of her first investment which was a disaster. According to her, such a thing can only be termed failure when you don’t get up, unpack it, and learn from it. Understand that you will make mistakes, even when you become astute. Learn to forgive yourself.

7. When Buying Real Estate, Control Is Key.

This was the main lesson Udo Okonjo learnt from that first disaster. Invest around where you are, and make sure due de-risking has been done. If you don’t know how, invest through schemes that have done the groundwork of securing the title and dealing with the baales and other such issues that can derail you.

8. When Investing In Property, The Title Is Everything.

This is why Fine & Country settles this first, before proceeding to anything else.

9. When Starting Out In Real Estate, Start Simple.

For instance, it’s always a good idea to house people. People are crying out for affordable accommodation.

10. Know That Real Estate Is A Long-Term Play.

It’s not liquid, and it takes time to extract liquidity from it, so don’t come at it with a “make it quick” attitude.

11. Even If You Can’t Do Anything Else For Starters, Buy Some Land.

Land is a great option because you can’t go wrong once you’ve secured it. Unlike developed property which you need to maintain, land increases in value on its own as time passes. You can even decide to lease it to a farmer, or rent it to a telecommunications company. Udo Okonjo quoted Mark Twain: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

I came away from the seminar feeling wealthier than I ever have, even though my account balance was exactly the same.

I may not be able to buy land right now, but I’m no longer ignoring real estate broadcast messages and ads.

The possibilities are endless if you simply open your mind to the fact that you, too, can invest in real estate. Once that can happen in your mind, it can happen in your life.

I missed the 2016 edition of the Finer Wealth Series last year (Ibukun Awosika Chairman of First Bank Plc shared her real estate investment stories, please cry with me) but I certainly don’t want to miss next year’s. Neither should you.

The Pros and Cons of Real Estate Investment

Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water. It involves buying, selling, or renting land, buildings or housing.

In Nigeria, people often refer to the “real estate market” from the perspective of residential living, however, real estate can be grouped into three broad categories based on its use: residential, commercial and industrial. Examples of residential real estate include undeveloped land. Examples of commercial real estate are office buildings, warehouses, and retail store buildings; and examples of industrial real estate are factories, mines, and farms. The size of an apartment in Nigeria is measured in square meters. This may include the total area of the walls enclosing the home.


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Real estate business is not for everyone. In making a commitment to the business, there are crucial questions one should ask oneself. For instance, do you want to solely invest in it or you want to have a partner? Especially in residential properties, partnership can often be appealing because of the inherent benefits, like mitigation of risk and shared responsibilities. However, one must be careful in choosing who to have a business venture with. It is also advisable to have the partnership business formalised to avoid unnecessary troubles in the future.

Real estate investing is currently one of the most popular ways to make extra money. Some have found success and have made it a full-time profession. This is why it is important to talk to a financial advisor before taking the step.  There are major questions one needs to ask and the answers will help shape one’s decision. Investing in real estate is great, however, one must be familiar with the pros and cons:



Real estate investment comes with a sense of assurance because the price does not tend to fluctuate. The investment is tangible. Usually, the value appreciates over time. Although this is not always certain, but the probability that the value of a property will decrease on a long term is low. That is why proper researching of a location is important before proceeding with the investment.


Income Stream

This serves as a source, or even better, one of the sources of income for an individual. Nigeria economy requires that one should have more than one source of income in order to meet the financial pressure. Real estate provides a steady flow of income for the owner. Have it in mind that income is mostly dependent on the geographical location of the property. Learning how to spot up-and-coming locations can be of great help in making sound decision regarding property purchase.

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In real estate investment, you’re in charge of all the significant decisions and the processes involved in the purchase and sale, and/or the rental of the property. Another advantage is you can own real estate without having to bear the hassles associated with real estate investment.



Maintaining a property can cost a huge sum. Besides the monetary cost, the physical and mental effort it requires may be quite high. If the units are being offered for rent, maintaining it so it remains fit to be inhabited may cost a chunk of money. The owner may have to spend a lot on repairs, electricity bill and so on.



Investing in real estate could be time-consuming if you plan to rent or sell properties. One may need to employ an agent or a manager to help oversee things. Doing that will lead to additional cost.

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Increased loss and liability

Real estate investors should be able to take risks. They should also be prepared to shoulder the losses and liabilities that arise. Real estate is dramatically affected by the condition of the immediate area where the property is located.

Legal Difficulties

Having legal troubles can cost a lot of money and bring strain to the person involved. There have been instances where someone builds on a piece of land thinking they own it, only to find out when they need a loan that the land is not theirs after all.

Certificate of Occupancy: How to process it successfully

For any building structure you see, whether a bungalow, duplex, sky scraper or even the foundational stage of a building, the Certificate of Occupancy, popularly called the C of O is what signifies legally that you have interest on the land upon which that property is standing on.

It is a very important document in any land transaction and is issued by the Government to the buyer of the land. Certificate of Occupancy is what makes you a lawful interest holder in the land and it also describes the type of use the land can be put to; commercial, mixed development or residential.

For example, according to the Constitution of Nigeria and since 1978, all land in a state (especially the urban parts of the state) is to be held by the Governor in trust for the people of the state.

This is not to say that we still don’t have people who exercise rights of their own on landed properties. These are called “omo-oniles” in the popular palace. Usually, their holdings are outside the legal frame work and would have to be brought in when you buy or even by themselves before selling if it is to become bankable.

To buy land therefore, you can make your purchase from the “omo-oniles”, Government or some other entity (individual or corporate) who must have earlier bought from either “omo-onile”s or Government.

Therefore to purchase a land, you either buy directly from the government, from individuals who bought from the government or from these so called “omooniles.” In cases where the said land has being a matter of some form of acquisition, you may have to pay the two of them to have access to a land.

At Realty Point, we usually advise that a proper due diligence be done when buying a piece of land because ignorance is not an excuse in law. Whoever you buy from, it is important that you obtain your Certificate of Occupancy where none existed before so as to ensure you secure a perfect title to the land.

To obtain your C of O from the government, you need to

1. Apply for land information and get your land information certificate. To do this, you need to pay an application fee at the Surveyor General’s office and provide a chartable survey plan (2 cloth, 2 paper)

2. Purchase a C of O application form. If a residential building, it’s =N=5,000 but if commercial, it’s =N=20,000 in Lagos State.

3. Fill and submit the application form in Land Use Allocation Commission (LUAC) with the following supporting documents

o Land information certificate

o Receipt for land information fee

o Receipt for application form

o Publication/inspection fee of =N=10,000

o Capital contribution (to be calculated based on size and location of land)

o Land purchase receipt/agreement (duly stamped)

o Copy of current tax clearance certificate (individuals)

o Copy of =N=100 development levy receipt

o Site location sketch

o Four passport photographs of applicant with white background

o Copy of approved building plan (if developed)

o Copy of tenement rate receipt (if occupied) or Land Use Charge

o Cover letter addressed to executive secretary LUAC, stating all documents attached, as above and typed with applicant’s address

o Acknowledgement slip from LUAC

When this is done, a letter of confirmation is issued to the Applicant with a plot and block number and the Scheme Officer processes the application for the Certificate of Occupancy, signs off on the file and forwards the files to the Executive Secretary of LUAC.

This takes a period of five days. After this, the Surveyor General provides Scheme Officer with digitized survey which is processed for two daysThe Executive Secretary LUAC approves processing and signs letter of allocation.

He signs off on the file and sends the file to the Senior Special Assistant to His Excellency on Lands. He or she then vets the entire file and sends it with a covering memo to the Permanent Secretary Lands Bureau.

However, if the file has a query, the message is relayed back by notification. This process takes two days also. When the Permanent Secretary is done, he signs off the memo and sends the file to His Excellency who approves and electronically signs the Certificate of Occupancy. these two processes takes a period of four days and should the file have a query, message is relayed back by notification.

Upon approval and signing of the Certificate of Occupancy by His Excellency, He signs off and sends it to the Deputy Registrar for further processing. The Deputy Registrar processes the file further, signs off and sends it to Registrar of Titles for final registration.

The Registrar of Titles then registers the Certificate of Occupancy, signs off and request for its printing. These processes take a total of five days. Altogether, the total process adds to a period of 21 days.

It is worthy of note that in these 21 days, the application is advertised to attract objection or no objections before it is processed.

Kind of tedious wouldn’t you say? That’s why Realty Point Ltd is here to take the stress off you!

Acquisition of Land: Since 1978, the major legislation regulating the acquisition of land within the country has been the Land Use Act of 1978 which states that all land in a State is to be held in trust by the State Governor for the benefit of all Nigerians. By law, foreigners may also acquire land wherever it is located in the country from either the State governments or from other holders.

Consent: The issue of getting a property can sometimes be very daunting if you have to think about the stress and many processes involved. First, you have to be sure what you’re buying is genuine and will not be sold to anyone else after your payment except by you.

Deed: A deed, as defined in the dictionary is a signed document pertaining to the ownership or legal rights of landed property. Ownership, legal, rights, property, signed are some of the keywords that stand out here.

Land Titles: The Government of Lagos State headed by Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola recently announced that land owners in Lagos who have no proper land title should make haste to regularise their title within 6months starting from August 1, 2012 or face the consequences of revocation.

Building Plan: I like to think of building plan thus: Every idea starts with the gift of imagination! However, it has been proven that even the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory. Imagination needs to be captured otherwise it becomes a thing of the past.

Why the Real Estate Market has Changed Forever

Why the Real Estate Market has Changed Forever – The most difficult effort in real estate used to be getting the money to invest. Thereafter, you sat back to enjoy the capital gains if you bought land or rents with returns between 5% to 15% and to add icing on the cake, initial rents were paid two years in advance.  For owners of property in the high-end locations there was the additional comfort of hedging against inflation and currency fluctuations by receiving rents in foreign exchange. Tax? Paid for by the tenant. Fees? Settled by the tenant.  This was an investment with all the odds stacked in your favour.

Little wonder, investors piled into the market. There were the long term Landlords who sought good rental returns. The speculators, who held land and sold when the values moved high enough to warrant selling.  Also we had the developers, who conjured large estates from bare land, mini-estates within larger ones or single dwellings. In the last ten years, the term ‘ Estate developer’ has joined ‘Lawyer’, ‘Banker’, ‘Doctor’ as a profession or business. The new styled developers pushed the boundaries of real estate. They moved from the regular locations to areas like Yaba, Ebute Metta, Ijora etc. The came up with ‘towns’ with first class services like Northern Foreshore, NICON Town. They brought new marketing techniques like ‘buy one, get one free’ of Lekki Gardens. Even manufacturing companies like The Churchgate Group pivoted from textiles to real estate

The real estate boom covered all aspects of the built industry.  While residential estates were favoured, office blocks especially of the Grade A status, hotels and shopping malls also had a look in. Land , especially in the prime locations was not sufficient so massive sandfilling  was done not only on the placid Lagos Lagoon but the riotous waves of the Atlantic Ocean were tamed to create the Eko Atlantic City. But was there demand for all these properties?

Real estate has always been seen as immune from the ups and downs of the economy. Stockmarket crisis, banking upheavals,  currency fluctuations seemingly had no effect on the impervious market. There was always demand – if you built it, they will either buy or lease it. This was true… long as supply was restricted. Over the last ten years, we have seen land, which is ordinarily a finite resource, expanded. It was expanded physically by sandfilling to create new estates as pointed out. It was also expanded by the sale of restricted stock – Federal Government owned land in  GRAs like Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Ikeja GRA, Apapa GRA etc. Land which was restricted to Government use fell into the hands of the developers. Land was also extended by a liberalised Physical Planning regime which allowed low density locations like Ikoyi to become high density. Lack of enforcement of planning laws also ensured that  in locations like Lekki Phase 1, land was built up to the hilt and single residences converted to multiple units.

As far back as five years ago, strategic reviewers of real estate had started to point out that there was a problem of over supply. Many chose to ignore it, celebrating individual sales and lettings as though they were the norm rather than the exception.

Today it is generally accepted that there is a supply issue in the high end locations of Ikoyi and the upper middle class locations of Ikeja GRA and Lekki. This interestingly has not resulted in a slowdown of construction activity or a reduction of price. So is real estate truly impervious to economic rules?

A review of the corruption cases will show how ill gotten gains have fuelled the market with the resultant effect that the values do not reflect the true state of the market. From bank loans which were not to be repaid back and proceeds of corrupt activities, real estate found capital that was not responsive to the vagaries of the economy.

A triple whammy of the state of the economy, anti-corruption war and vigour of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) against the recalcitrant debtors will cure the market of the pervasive influence of the ‘hot’ money in real estate investment.  It also means that there will be even more supply of building stock when all the law suits of properties involved in the ant-corruption war and AMCON are concluded.

With corrupt money sources reduced, developers have come face to face with the reality of a very shallow market. According to the Director of Research and International Relations at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Alhaji Mohammed Umar,  only two percent of bank accounts in the country have more than N500,000 credit balances. Speaking at the  2016 Businessday Capital Market Development Annual Conference in Abuja,  he said “indeed, Nigerians who have more than N500, 000 in their accounts are just two per cent. What we found is that this two per cent Nigerians have 90 per cent of banks’ total deposits. Look at that – two per cent Nigerians own 90 per cent of total banks deposits, while the remaining 98 per cent have just 10 per cent of total deposits.”

This reality has been felt by tenants in high end Shopping Malls that have been developed on the assumption that a 180million population and ‘growing’ middle class are available and willing and able to shop ‘until they dropped”. Mall tenants have found to their chagrin the brutal reality of these figures and have voted against the high rents of the mall by leaving. Faced with empty shops and high maintenance costs, the malls have turned to charging for parking and other fees as sources of income.

Like the mall owners, Developers and Landlords have changed the way they do business on the back of lowered expectations. It is now the norm to expect not only a deep discount on prices offered by developers but also a payment plan where the buyer can pay over several months as well. We expect the period for repayment to extend as developers virtually start to give ‘mortgages’ on their houses to sell their houses within reasonable periods. Landlords have also succumbed to the ‘buyers’ market by accepting one year’s rent instead of the customary two years. What legislation has been unable to do, economics has sorted out. In the high end locations, the topsy-turvy nature of the exchange rate has resulted in Naira being the currency of choice in determining the value of rents.

Also read: Has the 2011 Tenancy Law made any impact?

With the impact of the war against corruption yet to be fully felt, the onslaught against bank creditors and continuous supply of property, it should be expected that the market would go through even further changes. We expect to see smaller units in  terms of construction, aggressive marketing which may result in longer payment periods (and innovative legal documentation to cover the new arrangements)   and more ‘concessions’ given to tenants. For investors in real estate, expectations will have to be critically reassessed and there will be more to investment than simply raising the cash to buy the property.

How To Make Huge Profits From Selling Undervalued Homes

Figuratively, smart real estate investors have in the past turned anthills or even dunghills to massive real estate investments that ensures the unborn generation  will never go hungry. This article explains how you can make huge profits from sellingundervalued homes.

The best possible scenario for a real estate investor is to find undervalued homes to be able to then turn around and sell it for a profit. Obviously, this can be a difficult prospect as real estate market is becoming increasingly clogged with willing investors, but what happens when you do find a possible target? How do you evaluate its viability? The real answer: keep your cool.

Finding a target may seem like the most difficult part of the investing process, but gathering a variety of potential real estate possibilities will help you develop a more discerning real estate investing eye. Turning up undervalued prospect is an exercise in targeting sellers that have a motivation to sell quickly.

That motivation could come from a recent divorce, a fresh relocation or some financial difficulties. These situations are often emotional and if you get too wrapped up in the story behind each sale, you might be more prone to simply say yes to every opportunity instead of evaluating each investment properly. Here are some tips:

Develop Guidelines
Before you ever go on a search for potential investment properties, write down the kind of profit margin you would require to get involved in a real estate deal. You will want to build in cushion for cost overruns and market fluctuations, of course, but many investors forget to compensate themselves properly for time.

By setting up your guidelines with time limits attached to them, you can avoid this problem. Getting involved in a property that will eat up six months of your time and return a meager profit is obviously not worth the trouble.

However, not every situation will be as clear as that, so developing a plan on the term of your investment and the profit level you want to target will help you more efficiently go through potential properties, undervalued or not.

Don’t Be Over-Eager
Keep many irons in the fire but only pull one out when the time comes. One of the pitfalls of finding an undervalued house is the tendency to forget about needed repairs or other work to get a home back on the market. You might be so excited to find a target after a long search, the story behind a seller’s motivation might prompt you to say yes before going through the math on the investment.

If you have developed guidelines, now is the time to use them. Don’t wait until late in the transaction when a seller is putting pressure on you to move to sit back and think about the investment. You are more likely to make a rash decision or submit to a seller’s negotiating point that you would not have otherwise. Just because a home is undervalued doesn’t mean the seller is resigned to getting the short end of a deal.

Don’t Be Fooled By Volume
While volume might be a valued statistic in the retail industry, real estate investors should avoid counting investments instead of counting profits. Just because you’ve found a handful of undervalued homes does not mean that you need to get involved with each one no matter how small the profit.

In real estate investing, you do not make up your profits through volume. Instead, strong real estate investors will spend time on the properties that will net them the biggest return and focusing on that one strong prospect instead of 10 inferior ones will help you develop that investing skill.

While it is exciting to find an undervalued home that you might think has the potential to be a solid real estate investment, don’t get carried away by that excitement and forget to evaluate the deal properly. Do your math to make sure that the time you put into a property will be rewarded, no matter what the selling price might be. You will be a better real estate investor over the long term if you do.