They say if something is expensive but worth it, you will find a way to get it. And property in regard to land and buildings is one thing that is worth your investment in the long term.

By 2011, only 37% of Nigerians were house owners. This gap can be bridged by providing relevant and timely information to potential investors and to the general public. Additionally, there is a need to break down the barriers to investing in the sector by simplifying the process. That said, consider these 8 steps as you go about putting your hard earned money in the property market.

1. Research

If you are interested in the property market, there are great platforms to find information you need, including the mass media, online and around you. Talk to locals. Visit Google and relevant Nigerian property sites. Create Google alerts for search terms. This way, you will always be in the loop. You have to understand it before you can get into it. It is important to note that Real Estate information in Nigeria is scarce and thus requires effort on your part, whether you are in the country or abroad.

2. Decide on the specific property market

Depending on your goals, pick a sector that will benefit you more. It could be office, industrial property, retail centres or residential units. For instance, if you want speedy returns, investing in the residential market may not be for you. According to a developer in this BusinessDay article, a shopping mall in Nigeria is sold off before it is even complete while residential units take several years to actually sell out.

3. Identify booming real estate markets

They may not be booming now but owing to infrastructure development and ease of access to central business districts, that may be changing soon. Where a highway is constructed, it eases traffic and the working class tends to move in that direction, making it a worthy cause to build high-rises to rent out to them.
What does this mean? If you have identified residential real estate as your interest, you need to target the middle class. Nearly half of the middle class in Nigeria (people earning an average monthly income of N80,000–N100,000) are purchasing goods or planning to do so to improve their lives as years go by. This indicates a significant consumer boom.

4. Decide on where and how you will get finances

Depending on where you are in life, the source of financing may vary. It could be from friends and family or financial institutions. You could also have the money yourself. When you approach the bank or institution, make sure you know what you are doing. Your plan has to be viable enough to make them give you the money. As stated here last time, the Nigerian government secured a $300 million loan from the World Bank to establish Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) at the beginning of 2014. Hopefully its effect in terms of liquidity and bank lending is being felt now. You could benefit.
Remember that property in the better parts of Lagos and similar upscale urban areas is as expensive as in some Western markets.

5. Get the details right

Be careful not to enter into deals with untrustworthy people. Talk to industry experts, a lawyer and make sure you get everything ironed out right from the federal government requirements down to the owner’s issues. It is another known fact that property scammers run amok in our big cities; pretending to sell houses whose owners are away, complete with fake title deeds. Beware. Get the advice of relevant professionals such as surveyors who will check out the property and advise you accordingly.
When you get down to the construction, enlist the services of architects and service engineers. Do not do things hurriedly only to incur unnecessary costs. The Knight Frank head in Africa was quoted saying that a building in Nigeria that is about 5 years old will look like a building that is 15 years older in Europe.
If you are a foreign investor at corporate level, the best thing is normally to partner with locals like Actis.

6. Know the Law

You have the right to own property as a Nigerian. All the same, the 1978 Land Use Act gives state governments authority over land within their borders. They in turn avail it to you after an intricate and bureaucratic process. You will then receive a certificate of occupancy to actually use the land i.e. sell it or develop it. Your right can also be denied if you are living in a place that is not your area of origin, which can be very subjective at the very least and can create ethnic tension.

7. Look to the future

There may not be basic infrastructure where your property of interest is currently at, but if it is in the line of the ever expanding urban areas, you can never go wrong. A few years down the line, you may sell it at millions over and above what you buy it for. Do not be too short-sighted.

8. Online Marketing

You cannot afford to ignore the Internet in this day and age. Whether it is having a website or maintaining a social media presence, the Web is one of the affordable ways to get traffic to your venture once it hits the ground running. If you want to attract buyers or sellers, online marketing could be your way to achieve this.

Mistakes can be made in the real estate market in Nigeria as in anywhere else and that is why one needs to practise patience and wise resolve. Remember, Nigeria is a developing market with great potential in sight.