Friday, April 11, 2014
House Hunting Naija Style Competition entry.
In exactly 2 weeks I had visited every nook and cranny of Amuwo Odofin.
I had expected it to be quite simple. Silly me.
You wanted an apartment (people looked at me strangely whenever I used the word ‘apartment’ rather than the crude equivalent of ‘house’- so I quickly switched.)in a particular location?-all you had to do was do a quick search on the internet for a match, send in a few e-mails to register your intent and you were in business!
That was way back in the UK. This was Nigeria. Things weren’t quite that simple.
I first had to ‘hunt’ down a House Agent, (every one of them swore an oath on their mother’s life that they were trustworthy.) then I was rigorously scrutinized by the aforementioned house agent in a one-on-one, no-bars-hold interview session that included virtually everything about me from a detailed description of my birthplace to my sexual orientation.
When I offered my resistance to this line of questioning, ‘Baba Gift’ (that was what he was called.) simply laughed and informed me that my intending Landlord would do worse.
We had our first quarrel when he asked for a registration fee of N2, 000. I hit the roof declaring that I couldn’t possibly pay for a service he was yet to render.
He smiled patiently and explained over and over again.
“Oga, na so we dey do am for here. Nobody go gree show you house unless you don pay registration moni.”
I finally gave in and paid up, after getting a solemn promise from him that I wanted to see as much houses as possible.
I should have kept my big mouth shut.
We chartered a ‘Maruwa’-the trending tricycle that was slowly flooding the streets of Lagos- and we were on our way.
The first house was located in a relatively clean street somewhere in satellite town but the ‘representative’ of the Landlord (I soon learnt that the house business had a scary network of cabals and in-house privileged people that were as powerful as the house owner himself.)Insisted that he wanted what he called a ‘family man’. Married-preferably with kids.
Like I was planning to remain single till I died.
There was no point in trying to make him see reason so we moved to the next location. The house (I use the term loosely.) smelt like Bob Marley and a few of his choice cousins had just had a marathon smoking session there.
I cringed and quickly signaled Baba Gift, tugging at his shirt sleeve. We left a few minutes after we came.
The rest of the hunt was a blur. From one apartment to the next, one explanation to the other. Sometimes it was the price of the house, and at other times it was the agency/agreement fee but more often than not it was the location- hidden in a remote, rat-infested area that would have been more at home in any village.
I was drained and begged Baba Gift to stop. He insisted we continue the next day as we had only seen eleven of the sixty four houses on his list.
I promised to call him. He said he would rather call me. I cringed again.
It’s been two weeks now and I’m still searching.
*With start-ups like Nigeria property centre, the experience is slowly changing. I am yet to patronize the brand but i am a firm advocate for a more hassle free experience so as i browse through the site, i smile knowing that i wouldn't miss Baba Gift.
I am sure he wouldn't miss me either.