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Before you Buy that Land/Property in Nigeria:

| General Articles | May 3, 2011

There’s little doubt that property/land purchase can be a challenging task even for the most experienced buyer. For a first time buyer however, it can be downright overwhelming and tasking. From illegal and fake land documents to relentless omo niles (indigenous land owners) looking for the next swindle, there are a several pitfalls that could befall an unsuspecting first time property/land buyer. Before buying any property or parcel of land, therefore, it is important to conduct several checks before parting ways with money. There’s also the not-so-small matter of location and budget. While we may not all be able to afford ocean front property at Banana island, Lagos, there’s always something appropriate for everyone provided you conduct the right checks and make adequate plans and enquiries. Below are some points that should be considered before purchasing property/land:

  • BUDGET: this is a key factor to be considered before purchasing any parcel of land or property as it determines several things including the size and location of the purchase. If you’re buying already developed property, then you should also decide whether it’s a bungalow, duplex or block of flats you want and work it into your budget. While several hundred millions could fetch you a duplex in Ikoyi, Lagos, for instance, the same amount could fetch you a good portion of my entire village in Eastern Nigeria. It is therefore necessary to determine how much you have and are willing to spend. Most importantly, however, is ensuring you stick to your budget. If you are buying an already developed property, then you should bear in mind that their may be need for repairs and renovations. All of which should be included in your budget. Also, if you are buying land with the intention of developing, it’s advisable you embark on a market survey to find out the prices of building materials so your budget is up to date. In addition, get in touch with friends and family that have embarked on a similar project and seek their opinion as they could prove a veritable source of helpful information on purchasing materials and dealing with contractors.

  • LOCATION: this is another crucial factor you should decide on before making any purchase. Depending on personal choice, factors such as proximity to workplace and school should be seriously considered. Safety, water/power supply, good road and transport networking are also some other factors that should be considered before deciding to buy any property. While we are not really susceptible to weather hazards in Nigeria, it is still important to ensure that the area is not prone to flooding or is not close to dams that need to be opened every now and then as witnessed in the immense flooding that befell Ikorodu and environs some months ago. Estate Surveyor, Chief Kola Akomolede, Pricipal Patner, Kola Akomolede&Co also recommends that a prospective buyer talks to people in the neighbourhood and sample their general opinion of the area concerning safety, availability of power and water, amongst other things. Also, if you are purchasing a block of flats for rent, you must research and find out how much rent is reasonable to expect considering the area and quality of the property. It is further advisable to purchase property for rent or eventual sale in a school or commercial district as property there is likely to yield higher profit and appreciate when it is time to sell; should the need arise.

  • REALTOR: Haven decided on budget and location, the next vital step is picking a qualified Realtor to help with the purchase. Picking the right Realtor can be quite the challenge as it’s important to pick one who is genuine and has a clean track record of well-executed purchases. It is important to conduct a thorough personal investigation on the firm before making any decisions. Ascertain that he/she has conducted previous transactions successfully with very little or no issues of any kind. Ensure that you pick a Realtor who understands your needs and whose judgement you can trust. Your agent is your guide through your search for your future home and/or investment. It is therefore advisable you pick one who has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the area you have chosen and has the right resources and contacts to help in your search and strike a good bargain. You must also ensure that your agent ascertains that there are no outstanding PHCN or water bills, in the case of an already developed property.

  • LEGAL PROCEEDINGS: It is very important that you have a good property lawyer before embarking on land/property purchase. Reason being that your lawyer is the one who ensures that you don’t run into legal trouble with land/property documents after purchase. It’s your lawyer’s job to verify the authenticity of any title document backing the land/property. The legal aspect of property/land purchase is, therefore, most crucial as a wrong move can leave you bankrupt, in addition to being physically, emotionally and psychologically drained. To avoid this therefore, ensure that your lawyer ascertains the authenticity of all land/property documents before you make any payments. Before any transaction is done, let your property lawyer ensure that at least a Deed of Assignment or Certificate of Occupancy/Governor’s consent and receipt from the seller is made available for verification. Your lawyer is expected to take any of these titles to the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa (using land/property in Lagos as an example) to confirm the authenticity. Only after it is confirmed as genuine should payment be made. It is also advisable to take serious caution before buying a parcel of land directly from a family, especially if it is a large extended family as their might be dispute among family members. Chief Akomolede also states that in the case of a deceased owner selling, then the will or letter of administration should be made available. Also, ensure that if you are purchasing land for development, it should be developed within a 2-year period as stipulated by the Nigerian law.

  • PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT: While your Realtor is responsible for finding the right place and closing every deal, it is important that you are as involved with the search as much as possible. Endeavour to visit the area at various times of the day so you get a feel of the place and explore the area as much as possible. The seemingly quiet residential area on the weekend or morning might be a beehive of activities by midday or Sunday morning. It’s also no secret that it’s most advisable to house-hunt in the rainy season so you know if there are any leaks in the roof and if the area is prone to flooding. Also, consider if the area is traffic-prone as well as its accessibility and road networking. It is also advisable to have a chat with the sellers of the house, in the case of an already developed property to get a more intimate feel of the property in question.

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