In the Gambia, 2, 3 & 4 bedroom houses comes in all different forms. Some are characterized as “villas” when they simply bungalows so it is essential to look at the photo and see what the infrastructure looks like or try and visit the place.

Most people would rather chose locations close to the beach near the atlantic coastline. It is very important for you to know that many of these houses are mostly accessible to the east of the Kombo Coastal Road and outside the Tourist Development Area (TDA). Most of the time, the nearest you will get is often 500 meters or more. There are locations where lands for sale on or near the beach, for example Brufut Height, Bijilo, Cape Point, Fajara, Gunjur, Sanyang, Kololi and Kotu. Homes in Gambia are often gotten as permanent houses, holiday home, retirement home or just property investment.

Legal counselling
Before making any real estate decisions, always utilize the services of a certified greater Banjul based lawyer. They handle the property conveyancing process for you like searches at the Registry of Deeds, getting title deeds, making a draft contract for you, registration of title deeds, stamp duty, leases and other formal and professional types of documentation. Note: please check your lawyer’s fees and request references.

When considering to buy a house, see whether it has a flat roof. If so, make sure that it is aligned with a waterproofing item because these buildings are very likely to leaking. You should also look out for any leaks. Also look out for signs of damage on top of the ceiling if the roof is corrugated or tiled. Costs of repairs could go up to thousands of dalasis so this could be a bargaining item.

It can be very expensive to fix a faulty window so if the property has sliding windows, then make sure it is sliding properly. Look at the insect screen and make sure it is properly fitted.

Electrical System
It is important that you confirm if the property is connected to the main grid supply from the Gambia’s National Water and Electricity Company (Nawec). You can also see if there are supply lines running outside the property because you can get connected to the mains but it can take some time so you should ask about how long this will take before going ahead to purchase.

We suggest that you get a certified electrician (preferably someone who has graduated from the Gambia Technical Training Institute – GTTI) inspect how good the wiring is especially the ceiling area because you cannot be sure of the standard work. You can also rewire your new house completely with British standard wires just to be safe with the help of qualified electrician being monitored by an electrical engineer. This involves switches, sockets and distribution boxes. The main target for the electrician is for him to look at over fused circuits, improper wiring, burnt wiring, etc.

Water Mains Supply
In the Gambia, water meters are usually located near the front fence of the compound, also make sure that the property is connected to the water mains. If the building doesn’t have a water meter then check with the next door neighbors to see if they have supplies. If so, you can be able to apply after you have gotten the property.

Sewage& Plumbing
Ensure that all the taps are producing running and clean water. Get a highly qualified plumber to look out for any signs of leaks, incompatible joints, damp on walls, manholes etc.

You should also look at the exterior of the house and near the grounds for any signs of termite tunnels or leads rising from the ground or you can even look inside the house at the bottom of door frames, walls and other areas. If any has been seen it is a sign that the foundations did not get good anti-termite infestation treatments. These are big red flags for you to take extra consideration buying that particular property.

Swimming Pools
In this case, you will have to need an inspection of a pools engineer. Many companies sell supplies and construct swimming pools and might offer and inspection service with a cost. If this is impossible, then get a good plumber to look at the quality of the pump in the pool house and make sure that water is being transferred to the pool. You are also advised to request for the pool to be emptied in order for you to look at the conditions of the tiles and don’t forget to check the lights too.

Structural Survey
Before concluding on your decision to buy a house in the Gambia, we suggest that you look into the services of a highly qualified building structural surveyor to confirm if the property has any issues and give you a price of fixing any issues. This will give you the upper hand in bargaining for a lower price from the owner and even a savings for you.

If it necessary to have destructive probing then it should be approved by the seller’s written approval with the aid of a legal adviser. It should be a clearly written agreement as to which side will handle the correct and full repairs after an inspection like that. A survey is used to deter the risk for the purchaser but not to completely get rid of it.

Just like any property, it is normal to have a few issues. If you like a property then this should not stop you from buying it because it all depends on the amount of money you are going to spend on repair. Note that by summing up all these costs, it can give you an advantage of keeping the price lower than what is asked when negotiating.

Before Moving In
After buying you house in the Gambia, you should think about installing a 1,000 or 2,000 liter reserve water tank, a generator, a solar hot water heater, and a borehole; that is if it not available in the household. The borehole will especially save you a lot of money from water bills if the house has a larger garden. Always remember that the tariffs gets higher the more you utilize the water.

Selling Your Home
When you come to decide on selling your property on the market, we recommend that you fix all the repairs, ensure all systems, fixtures and fitting are all in good condition before putting out the property on the market. This will enable you to add value on your home and your negotiating position to your selling price and the not stay on the market for a longer period.

Do not sell it as a furnished property unless you have to different prices set. The reason for this is that your client may claim to not want the furniture and ask for a lower price. Sometimes, they may want to keep only some of the furniture therefore leading to a wasted time of recalculations.

Keep the place clean after the place has been sold as a vacant possession. Get a housekeeper to sweep and wash down the tiles at least once a week and also clean the windows twice a month. Also open the windows a little bit to makes sure fresh air comes in and it is well ventilated. Note that it is also essential for you to keep the garden watered properly, trim and tidy. Don’t forget to consider giving the whole house a fresh coat of paint. This is because it will attract your customers and first impression is very important.

Reminder does not take responsibility for misinterpretation, destruction or losses of any kind from anyone following or not following any of the details above. Contact a lawyer first before inspecting any property or making any decisions on real estate.