Propsult reality

How to Start Property Development in Nigeria: A Comprehensive Guide

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Table of Contents

Picture this: you’re in the bustling city of Lagos, the heart of Nigeria, surrounded by a sea of buildings. Each one is a testament to someone’s dream, someone’s vision. You look around and think, “I want to be a part of this. I want to create something that stands tall in the skyline.” Well, my friend, you’re in the right place. This blog post is your first step towards becoming a property developer in Nigeria.

Now, property development isn’t a walk in the park. Property development isn’t a ‘mo gbo mo ya’ thing (for the non-Yoruba speakers, that’s ‘hear and jump in’). There are ups and downs, twists and turns, and sometimes, you might even go upside down. 

In this blog post, we’ll break down the process of starting a property development business in Nigeria. We’ll start from the basics, like understanding what property development is and how to start your own company. We’ll then dive into the nitty-gritty details, like financing your business, creating a development plan, and sourcing suitable property.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Conduct thorough market research to identify potential opportunities and target demographics. 
  • Ensure you have a solid financial plan in place, including contingency funds for unexpected expenses.
  • Identify suitable properties for development based on your investment criteria and market demand. 
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and contractors to design and construct your property development project.
Subscription Form
Subscribe for exclusive insight into Lagos real estate and Investment opportunities
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

What is Property Development?

At its core, property development involves acquiring existing sites, enhancing their value, and selling or leasing the improved assets for a profit. Developers take vacant buildings or under-utilized land and transform them into residential, commercial or mixed-use spaces to suit market demand. The different types of property development include:


Building private homes, apartments, or housing estates to provide accommodation. These can range from small-scale refurbishments to major new-build apartment blocks.


Constructing or refitting properties used for business purposes such as office spaces, retail units, hotels, and warehouses. Commercial developers focus on meeting the needs of businesses across various sectors.


Developing specialized spaces for industrial activities like manufacturing, research and development, or storage and distribution hubs. This includes building factories, data centers, or logistics facilities.


Combining multiple property types such as residential, commercial, leisure, and retail into a single development. Also known as multi-purpose developments, these complex projects blend different uses to create vibrant communities.

Whether refurbishing existing buildings or developing land from scratch, property developers aim to respond to housing shortages, urbanization as well as shifting workplace trends. They play a vital role in shaping the built environment around us.

Planning Your Property Development Journey

Mindset & Goals

Before you start laying bricks or drawing plans, there’s something super important: your mindset. Property development is not just about buildings; it’s about building dreams. But hey, don’t get carried away dreaming without your feet on the ground. It’s like planning a road trip; you need a map and a clear destination.

Setting Realistic Goals

Think of your goals as the foundation of your future skyscraper. They need to be strong and well-thought-out. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve? Sky-high luxury apartments, or cozy homes for families?” Just like choosing between jollof rice and pounded yam, know what you crave.

Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It’s not just about saying, “I want to build something.” It’s more, “I want to develop a 10-unit apartment complex in Ikoyi within the next 18 months.” See the difference? Specificity is key.

Gearing Up for the Long Haul

Remember, property development is a marathon, not a sprint. Prepare yourself for the long haul. There will be red tape, funding challenges, and construction delays (hello, rainy season!). Brace yourself for these challenges; they’re part of the game.

Learning and Adapting

You’ve got to be like a sponge – ready to soak up knowledge. The property market changes faster than fashion trends in Lagos. Stay informed about market trends, legal changes, and new construction technologies. Adaptability is your best friend here. If a plan doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board. It’s like learning to make perfect puff-puff; sometimes, you need to tweak the recipe.


Building relationships is as important as building properties. Connect with other developers, real estate agents, architects, and investors. These connections can open doors, provide insights, and help you navigate the ups and downs. It’s like having a squad of experienced players on your football team; they know how to score goals.

Staying Focused and Driven

Lastly, keep your eye on the prize. There will be days when everything seems to go sideways – it’s normal. Keep your focus. Stay driven. Your mindset is the engine of your journey. Fuel it with determination, patience, and a dash of optimism.

Education & Training

Pursuing relevant education and training is crucial for aspiring property developers in Nigeria. It equips you with the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise to navigate the complexities of the industry successfully. Here are some pathways to consider:

Educational Resources on Property Development in Nigeria

  • Enroll in real estate or property development courses offered by universities, polytechnics, or professional institutions. These programs cover topics such as property valuation, construction management, urban planning, and real estate finance.
  • Consider online courses, workshops, or seminars conducted by industry experts or real estate associations. These can provide valuable insights into specific aspects of property development, such as legal frameworks, zoning regulations, and project management.
  • Research professional certifications are offered by relevant institutions like the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) or the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB). These certifications can enhance your credibility and demonstrate your commitment to professional development.

Additionally, gaining practical experience through internships, entry-level positions, or working on small-scale projects can be invaluable in complementing your formal education and training. 

Building Your Network

Connect with established property developers, mentors, and industry professionals. Seek out opportunities to learn from their experiences, gain practical insights, and explore potential collaborations or mentorship opportunities.

Attend industry events, conferences, and seminars organized by real estate associations, chambers of commerce, or professional bodies. These events provide valuable networking opportunities and exposure to the latest industry trends and best practices.

Join online forums, communities, or social media groups dedicated to property developers in Nigeria. Engage with fellow professionals, share knowledge, and stay updated on industry news and developments.

Building a strong network and continuously expanding your knowledge and skills will position you for success in the dynamic world of property development in Nigeria.

Creating a Business Plan

Developing a comprehensive business plan is an essential first step for aspiring property developers in Nigeria. A well-crafted plan serves as a roadmap, guiding your strategy, decision-making, and execution. Here are the key components to consider:

Outline Your Property Development Strategy and Goals

  • Clearly define your objectives, whether it’s residential, commercial, or mixed-use development.
  • Identify your target market segment and niche within the Nigerian property sector (e.g., luxury apartments, student housing, retail spaces).

Conduct Comprehensive Market Research

  • Analyze property trends, demographics, and rental yields in your target area to identify profitable opportunities.
  • Research government policies, zoning regulations, and development incentives that could impact your projects.
  • Study the competition and understand the unique value proposition you can offer.

Project Your Finances and Funding Requirements

  • Create a detailed budget encompassing land acquisition, construction costs, legal fees, marketing expenses, and other associated expenses.
  • Forecast your potential return on investment (ROI) based on your chosen development strategy (sell or rent).
  • Explore financing options, including bank loans, private investors, or partnerships, and outline your funding plan.

Define Your Operational Plan

  • Outline the key milestones and timelines for land acquisition, permits, construction, and project completion.
  • Identify the critical roles and responsibilities within your team, including contractors, architects, and legal advisors.
  • Develop a marketing and sales strategy to attract potential buyers or tenants effectively.

Conduct Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies

  • Identify potential risks, such as market fluctuations, regulatory changes, or construction delays.
  • Develop contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies to minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances.

Remember, your business plan should be a living document, regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the market, regulations, or your strategic objectives. Seeking input from industry experts, mentors, or professional advisors can further strengthen your plan and increase your chances of success in the dynamic Nigerian property development landscape.

Understanding the Property Development Process

Before diving into the intricacies of property development, it’s essential to grasp the overarching process involved in bringing a development project to fruition. This multifaceted process encompasses several key stages, each playing a crucial role in shaping the success of the venture.

Research and Market Analysis

Successful property development begins with thorough research and market analysis. Understanding local market trends, demand-supply dynamics, demographic profiles, and economic indicators is paramount in identifying viable development opportunities and assessing project feasibility.

Feasibility Assessment

Once potential development opportunities have been identified, conducting a feasibility assessment is essential to evaluate the project’s viability. 

Factors such as land acquisition costs, construction expenses, projected revenues, and potential risks must be meticulously analyzed to determine the project’s financial feasibility and potential return on investment.

Securing Financing

Securing adequate financing is a critical aspect of property development. Whether through traditional lenders, private investors, or joint venture partnerships, accessing the necessary capital to fund land acquisition, construction costs, and other development expenses is essential for moving the project forward.

Planning and Design

The planning and design phase lays the groundwork for the development project, encompassing architectural design, site planning, and regulatory compliance. 

Collaborating with architects, engineers, and design professionals, developers must conceptualize and refine the project vision to align with market demands and regulatory requirements.

Obtaining Permits and Approvals

Navigating the regulatory landscape and obtaining necessary permits and approvals is a pivotal step in the property development process. Developers must adhere to local zoning regulations, building codes, environmental standards, and other regulatory requirements to ensure compliance and mitigate potential delays or setbacks during construction.

Property Development Journey Overview

PhaseDescriptionKey Players
Site SelectionIdentifying land or buildings with potential, due diligence checks, and site appraisalDevelopers, Agents, Surveyors
Feasibility StudyFinancial modeling to ensure satisfactory profit margins.Developers, Financial Analysts
Design & PlanningArchitectural design and obtaining necessary permissionsArchitects, Planners, Local Authorities
FinancingSourcing funds for project completionBanks, Investors, Developers
ConstructionManaging the build process to finish the development.Contractors, Builders, Project Managers
Sales & MarketingPromoting and selling or leasing the developed propertyMarketing Teams, Sales Agents

Identifying Investment Opportunities

Identifying lucrative investment opportunities is a crucial aspect of property development. Here are the key considerations to keep in mind:

Market Trends and Demand Analysis

Stay abreast of current market trends and conduct thorough demand analysis to identify areas with high growth potential and increasing demand for real estate. Factors such as population growth, employment opportunities, infrastructure development, and demographic shifts can influence market dynamics and present attractive investment opportunities.

Location Selection

Location is paramount in property development. Choose locations that offer proximity to amenities, transportation hubs, schools, employment centers, and other essential services. 

Consider emerging neighborhoods or areas undergoing revitalization for potential investment, keeping in mind factors like neighborhood stability, crime rates, and future development plans.

Property Sourcing and Acquisition

Once you’ve identified target locations, focus on sourcing and acquiring suitable properties for development. Utilize various channels such as real estate agents, online listings, auctions, and networking to identify potential properties that align with your investment criteria. 

Conduct thorough due diligence to assess property condition, title issues, zoning regulations, and potential for value appreciation.

Assembling the Development Team

Successful property development requires assembling a team of professionals with diverse expertise to navigate various aspects of the development process:

Architects and Designers

Engage experienced architects and designers to translate your vision into actionable design plans. Collaborate closely with them to ensure that the design aligns with market demands, zoning requirements, and budget constraints while incorporating innovative and sustainable design elements.

Contractors and Builders

Select reputable contractors and builders with a track record of delivering high-quality projects on time and within budget. Conduct thorough interviews, review past projects, and obtain multiple bids to select the most suitable contractor for your development project. 

Establish clear communication channels and project milestones to ensure smooth project execution.

Legal and Financial Advisors

Seek guidance from legal and financial advisors to navigate complex legal and financial aspects of property development. Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, negotiate favorable financing terms, and structure legal agreements to protect your interests throughout the development process.

Real Estate Agents and Property Managers

Work with experienced real estate agents and property managers to market your development project effectively and manage leasing or sales activities. Leverage their market expertise and networks to attract potential buyers or tenants and optimize property performance post-development.

Practical Steps and Challenges in Property Development

Gaining SkillsDeveloping a range of capabilities beyond finance and real estate.Education, Training, Experience
FundingSecuring adequate finance can be challenging due to strict lending criteria.Diverse funding sources, Relationship building with funders
RegulationsKeeping up with complex and evolving regulations and standards.There are key team members needed in property development. Strong project teams, Engagement with local authorities
Planning ApprovalDealing with bureaucracy and community opposition.Extensive collaboration, Transparent communication
ConstructionManaging unforeseen issues and keeping the project on track.Watertight contracts, Contingency funds

Navigating Regulatory and Legal Considerations

Navigating regulatory and legal considerations is paramount to ensuring compliance and minimizing potential risks in your property development venture:

Zoning and Land Use Regulations

Understand local zoning and land use regulations governing your development project, including permitted land uses, building height restrictions, setback requirements, and density regulations. Obtain necessary zoning approvals and permits from local authorities to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Building Codes and Permitting Requirements

Familiarize yourself with building codes and permitting requirements applicable to your development project, including structural requirements, fire safety standards, and accessibility guidelines. Work closely with architects, engineers, and regulatory authorities to obtain necessary building permits and approvals before commencing construction activities.

Environmental and Sustainability Standards

Consider environmental and sustainability standards in your development project to minimize environmental impact and enhance long-term sustainability. Incorporate green building practices, energy-efficient technologies, and sustainable design principles to optimize resource utilization, reduce carbon footprint, and enhance overall project value.

Managing Construction and Development

Effective management of construction and development activities is crucial to ensuring the successful execution of your property development project:

Project Management and Oversight

Implement robust project management practices to oversee construction activities, coordinate subcontractors, and monitor project progress. Establish clear communication channels, project milestones, and quality control protocols to ensure adherence to project timelines and specifications.

Quality Control and Risk Mitigation

Prioritize quality control measures throughout the construction process to maintain high construction standards and minimize defects or rework. Conduct regular site inspections, quality assurance checks, and compliance audits to identify potential issues early and implement corrective actions promptly.

Timely Completion and Delivery

Strive for timely completion and delivery of your development project to meet market demand and maximize returns on investment. Implement efficient construction methodologies, optimize resource allocation, and proactively address construction delays or bottlenecks to expedite project delivery without compromising quality or safety.


A real estate developer plays a primary role in the real estate industry because the profession involves the acquisition and development of property. Acquisition is often with the sole intent to develop the property into commercial or residential buildings, which can range from apartment complexes and single- or multi-family homes to restaurants, retail spaces, offices, and industrial spaces.

The key thing to note about property development is that it’s not a quick way to make fast money – while analysts are cautiously predicting the market to recover over the medium term, it’s going to be a long time before it returns to the sort of massive gains we saw in the past. However, if approached with the right mindset, it can be a good source of long-term investment.


How much money do I need to start a property development project in Nigeria?

The amount of money needed to start a property development project in Nigeria varies depending on factors such as the size and scope of the project, location, construction costs, and financing options. It’s essential to conduct a thorough financial analysis and budgeting process to determine the required funds.

What are the key regulatory requirements I need to consider when starting a property development project in Nigeria?

Starting a property development project in Nigeria requires compliance with various regulatory requirements, including zoning laws, building codes, environmental regulations, and permits. It’s crucial to engage with relevant government agencies and authorities early in the planning process to understand and fulfil all legal obligations. Obtain necessary approvals and permits before commencing construction to avoid delays and potential legal issues.

How can I find suitable properties for development in Nigeria?

Finding suitable properties for development in Nigeria requires a combination of market research, networking, and due diligence. Explore various sources, including real estate listings, auctions, distressed properties, and off-market deals. Consider factors such as location, infrastructure, market demand, and potential for appreciation when evaluating properties for development.

Get Expert Advice on Lagos Property Market

Are you an Home-buyer, New or experienced investor? Get your tailored success strategy with a FREE consulation! Book now and unlock your potential!


Get all of our latest real estate tips delivered straight to your inbox.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Open chat
Hi there 👋
How can we help you?