Some people prefer to buy an existing house instead of building one from the scratch, especially when they have enough money to do so; to some the pain is the stress of monitoring building contractors
– By Ranti Adedeji
There are categories of existing houses in the market. There are newly-built houses that have never been occupied; there are those which have been occupied for a very long time and the owner decided to sell in order to raise money for business. There are houses that were once occupied but abandoned before being offered for sale. The first category is not in the precinct of this write-up, since they are not too different from personally-built houses.
Apart from the choice of location, which could as well be determined by your preferences and available fund, one of the major benefits of buying an existing house is that you can physically inspect the structure, fittings and finishes; and assess their present state and quality in order to identify defects and level of workmanship before you commit your money. You have the opportunity of inspecting the property in conjunction with experienced building professional to advise you on the conditions of the fittings and seek expert opinion if you are uncertain about the structural aspects of the property before you make up your mind.
When buying a house, you have the advantage of identifying its titles and verifying them at the state’s lands registry. In fact, one of the major questions you will ask the owner or the agent is to see the documents on the property. You can possibly ask for a photocopy and show it to your lawyer to advise you on the authenticity or otherwise of such documents. If there is any “hidden agenda” or unsatisfactory documents, you will know before you pay.
If the property is in an established neighbourhood, it may be near major arterial routes and amenities such as business districts, shopping centres, schools, places of work and public transport. You also have the benefits availability of infrastructure like electricity, water and good road network. For instance, if you are buying a house in Anthony, Ilupeju or Gbagada, you will not only have these facilities but you also have direct access to the Lagos Business District, Alausa Central Business District and similar business locations.
When buying a house, you can be certain about factors such as privacy and views, as well as the type, size, age and condition of other properties in the neighbourhood, which may have an influence on current and future property values. Moreover, you can have an idea about who your neighbours are likely to be, at least, by your assessment of other buildings around.
You can also determine the amount of renovations required to bring the property to your taste. Minor transformation or overhauling of floor tiles and painting of walls may be worthwhile and it is different from where you have to completely change the roof, for instance. You can determine the level of repair work required on the building and decide if you are ready for the extra cost.
There is less chance of vacant plots of land around existing houses, especially if it is in a developed area, which is an advantage with regard to security. Although, some developed locations are known to harbour more “area boys” and burglars than most new sites; the only difference is the presence of police surveillance and organised private security arrangement in developed neighbourhoods.
The average land area of older houses is larger than that of newly-built ones, which is an advantage for people who want sufficient space for their children to play or wishing to convert existing structures to country homes. Also, the average total building area of older houses, including the average size per room, tends to be larger than in the case of newer houses. Houses in Ikoyi, Ikeja GRA and Banana Island pride themselves as leaders with this advantage. No wonder leading politicians and business moguls prefer these highbrow residential locations.
On the flip side of the coin, an existing property is sold without a warranty. Since, you are buying as it is; you have to bear the cost of renovations or outright change of defective parts. Unless adequate precaution is taken during your inspections, there is often a high level of uncertainty about the conditions of plumbing and electrical fittings, which may break down unexpectedly, and may be expensive and time-consuming to repair or replace.
The price of an existing house excludes transfer duty payable to the state government. Although transfer duty rates have been substantially reduced recently, yet transfer duty may still add up to a sizable sum of money, depending on the value of a property.
The architectural design of the house, fittings, finishes and other structures like the roof may not be in line with the latest fashion trends and personal preferences. Besides, the positioning of structures on the land and room arrangement may not be suitable with regards to wind directions, or not be according to personal preferences. This often leads to modification with its attendant have huge cost implications. Those buying houses in Old Yaba, for instance, still have to carry-out extensive remodeling in conformity with modern designs and personal comfort.
On a final note, remember that you have to safe up to the required amount before you can make an outright purchase of a building. The only exception is where you can have a memorandum of understanding with the owner to make part-payment and pay the balance later. It is only in this situation can you be permitted to occupy a house you have not fully paid for.