Buying land or developed property is a dream for most people. It can be a fascinating and scary prospect at the same time.
This is especially so because, in Nigeria, there is always a risk of fraud. There are certain factors you must keep in mind before buying any property. It’s imperative to understand this process as they help you make more informed decisions.
Therefore this tip is to guide anyone interested in buying properties in Nigeria.
Buying a property is a huge step that involves a substantial long-term financial commitment. Therefore, it is always essential to research the cost of purchasing land and all other associated expenses. A budget serves as a guide as it allows you to make the best use of your funds.
Examples of the extra expenses that you might want to consider when planning your budget are; legal fees: this is usually 5% of the cost of the Land; Agency fees are also around 5% of the price of the land; survey plan: depending on your choice of Location, the cost of putting up a fence to secure your land after purchase (you don’t want to leave it bare); and also the cost of getting all other required documents such as Certificate of Occupancy (C of O),
Governor’s consent, etc. from the government. These are some of the extra costs you want to add to your budget from the onset to avoid a financial headache when buying a land or house.
If you intend to buy a property, you need to ensure that it is in a location where you can be for a very long time. However, there is more to just buying Real Estate. Before making a purchase, many things are considered, one of which is choosing the perfect location for your property. Location plays a vital role in the overall value of the land. The price of Real Estate might be sold depending on many factors, and one of those factors is the Location.
The price of Real Estate in Abuja would be different from that of Real Estate in Ogun State. Another thing to consider when choosing the Location of Real Estate is the potential growth of the area and the neighborhood’s safety.
This is another thing you need to know if you intend on purchasing land. You might have heard various terms like plots, acres, and hectares, and start thinking, what does it mean? They are different land sizes and play a vital role in the prices of land or house.
You have to familiarize yourself with the sizes of the land and the way they are priced.
- Plots – A plot is a substantial piece of land for farming or building. It is essential to know the size of a full plot in order not to be duped. A typical plot of land stands around 100 ft x 100 ft. =30 m x 30 m = 900 square meters, and half the plot can be considered 50 ft x 100 ft. = 15 m x 30 m = 450 square meters.
For easy comparison, always request sizes in square meters.
- Acres – An acre is a bigger size compared to a plot. It is almost the equivalent of a standard football field, the standard unit of measurement used by most land sellers. An acre usually consists of 6 plots, measuring about 60 x 120 ft (4,046 square meters).
- Hectare – This is the largest of the three sizes. A hectare of land measures about 100m x 100m or 328 feet x 328 feet or 10,000 square meters. A hectare of land is about two and a half acres which are usually about 15 plots.
It is imperative to note that these measurements vary across Nigeria. Though the above sizes are standard, factors like land location, possession, and circumstances leading to the transaction can affect the measurements.
When you or your agent find a possible piece of land that meets your specifications, it is best to do a physical inspection of the site to determine if the property is as described. You can go with a real estate expert. It is equally essential to request copies and title documents before or during the physical inspection of the land or property.
Make sure you carry out a thorough inspection of the land before making payment to avoid being tricked. No matter what you do, do not go into a deal where the seller cannot provide proof of ownership to avoid unnecessary issues with the government or land grabbers.
After inspection, the next step is to search for the relevant land registry (you can get a lawyer for that). This search is essential to determine if the seller is the rightful owner of the land, if the title presented is genuine, if the property is not under dispute. It is not the subject of any government acquisition. Unfortunately, several occasions have been sold to an ignorant buyer while the property title is still in dispute, mainly where the land is family land.
To conduct an investigation, one usually submits an application letter to the appropriate Real Estate registry accompanied by an affidavit of the applicant’s status and the purpose of the search. But as stated earlier, you can hire a lawyer for this part.
Conduct an independent valuation of the property
If you are buying a house or land, there might be a need to conduct a property valuation to ensure that you are paying a reasonable amount for the property. For example, a seller might have over-priced a property, or the agent might have inflated the property’s price. On the other hand, the valuation might be a source for renegotiation if the property is unreasonably high.
On the other hand, if the valuation reveals that the amount is unreasonably low, there might be a need to exercise caution before proceeding with the transaction. It would help if you asked more questions from the agent and the owner, particularly about the reason for the sale. You can also ask questions from the neighbors.
Documentation and Payment
After your investigation, and you must have confirmed that the property’s title presented by the seller is genuine, the next thing is for you and the seller to agree on an acceptable price. When you are satisfied, you make the payment, and you may now execute the Deed of Assignment.
Execution occurs when both parties (buyer and seller) complete and sign the Deed of Assignment. In the deed of assignment, the contract details are spelled out: the date when the ownership is transferred from one person to the other, and the specific description of the property Location.
A Deed of Assignment is an agreement where the seller pledges that the seller assigns his ownership of that land to the buyer from the date of the assignment.
The deed of assignment is not the only thing that needs to be executed; the contract of sale, land survey, Letter of Allocation, Power of Attorney, and payment receipt must also be signed and given to you. Buying land or a house without getting these documents is a recipe for disaster. They are part of the documents needed to claim complete ownership of the land purchased. Therefore the transaction is not complete if you are not given these documents.
The deeds are usually presented for stamping at the Stamp Duties Registry, including receipts confirming payment of stamp duty.
PROCESSING OF GOVERNMENT CONSENT
It is essential to take this step after payment. A deed of assignment that both parties have executed in the agreement needs to be registered. A registered act of work is what is known in Nigeria as Governor’s Consent. No one can sell land, mortgage, transfer possession, or sub-lease without the Governor’s consent in the case of land. Therefore, a deed of assignment is executed after the land of sale between the buyer (assignee) and the seller (assignor). The buyer will now take a step further by registering the work to be known as Governor’s Consent or registered Deed of Assignment.
To obtain the Governors consent, you will need the following documents:
– Covering letter
– Completed Form 1C
– Certified True Copy (CTC) of title documents of the assignor (vendor)
– Current tax clearance certificates of you and the assignor
– 4 copies of the deed of which consent is sought
– Copy of the approved survey plan
– Evidence of payment of charting fee, endorsement fee, and Form 1C
– Evidence of payment of land use charge
– A photograph of the property
– A copy of the applicant and his agent’s identification
Application is made to the Directorate of Land Services. Hence, a Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued to a holder of a Governor’s Consent on the same land.
File the Documentation for your New Property with the State Government
If the property acquired has never been registered in the real estate registry, then a certificate of occupancy should be the first document to be issued after determining whether the property is developed or bare land. Then, the state and Surveyor General of the Federation (on federal land) must chart the ground to determine if it is free from government acquisition and, if it is, under which acquisition it is committed.
Certificate of Occupancy would only be issued if there is no record with the land registry about the land and no form of title has ever been issued (Land Certificate, Conveyance, or C of O) on that particular land before the present application. You should process your C of O as soon as possible.
Here are some of the required documents to obtain a C of O
- A formal letter addressed to the Executive Secretary of the Land Use Allocation Committee
- A completed Certificate of Occupancy Form with a receipt
- A Land Information Certificate with receipt
- Four original survey plans (2 in cloth and 2 in paper)
- Four passport photographs with a white background
- A sketch map of the site LocationLocation
- duly stamped purchase receipt
- Evidence of payment of income tax
- current development levy
- A publication fee of N10,000.00
- The capital contribution fee is subject to a minimum of N30,000.00.
- Building plan approval if developed
Taking Possession of Acquired Land
After payment and completion of the documentation, the last thing you want to do is leave it unguarded simply because you have paid for it.
This is often a choice many have made and lived to regret.
Omo Onile – (miscreants with a robust network of notoriety within the real estate circle in Nigeria) and scam agents are always on the prowl for unguarded land. They forge documents and sell such land to several other people. There have been cases of people who paid for land only to return to it after some months/years to be shocked by someone else erecting a property on land they legitimately paid for.
To avoid this, you can erect a perimeter fence around your property. The wall lets other probable buyers know that the land has been acquired. As long as you have all necessary documents indicating you as the landowner, the government has approved a 21-year jail sentence for anyone charged and found guilty of land grabbing.
Before paying for any Real Estate, you must carry out thorough research and work on proper documentation. Working with a trusted real estate agent and with these steps in mind will guide you towards buying Real Estate and a house in Nigeria and avoiding the risks involved.