The Real Estate industry in Nigeria is fraught with various issues or cases of people being duped either by estate agents, con artists and the so called omoniles. This article gives you an insight into the real estate scams in the Nigerian context, and how it can be avoided.
With the demand for accommodation more than supply, it then doesn’t come as a surprise when some people fall easy preys to con artist in desperation.
Another reason people get scammed is because they fail to realise that when an opportunity looks too good to be true, you don’t just jump at the offer. In fact, you should jump pass that opportunity. With the high level of fraud committed within the industry, it is imperative that you protect yourself from being a victim. These various real estate scams can be avoided by working with a reputable real estate agent, company or developer.
Some of the common real estate scams perpetrated by omoniles is the sale of land inherited from parents or grand-parents to more than one person. Since the only source of income for omoniles or land grabbers is the sale of these inherited lands, their usual style is to prey on lands that have been sold but not yet developed to another buyer.
Sometimes they even sell land that has been developed half-way to buyers just to keep the income flowing and these buyers find themselves in a continuous battle for possession of the land. A lot of land cases presently in court are in this category and unfortunately, the omoniles have gone AWOL with the monies collected.
Another disturbing trend noticed with dubious omoniles is extorting money from buyers who are developing their properties. In certain areas, they charge ridiculously high prices for bogus fees like foundation and roofing fees when they will not contribute anything at any time whatsoever to the building process of the property. The money collected is simply to keep them from disturbing or harassing workers on your property and refusal to comply usually ends up with them applying force of arms until you concede. Individual and corporate developers alike are often faced with this situation, at the mercy of these omoniles turned touts. Although this practice by the omoniles has been frowned at by the Lagos State Government and there was recently a clamp down on such activities by the Ambode led administration, it is still very much in practice in Ogun State and other parts of the federation.
Also, some Nigerians get defrauded when they believe they have the original documents of the property only to find out much later that the supposed genuine documents. In this case, the unsuspecting buyer is presented documents stating the seller as the rightful owner of the property meanwhile, what is being presented to him/her is documents forged in the name of the seller. These fraudsters parade themselves as the owner of a property and show you property for sale that really isn’t because he is somehow able to gain access to the said property. For this kind of real estate scam, a red flag becomes visible when the property is cheaper than what is normally obtainable. Albeit the victim can’t see the red flag if he/she decides to be carried away with the excitement of owning a property at a price far below his/her budget.
Real estate agents also perpetrate this kind of real estate scam, albeit in the aspect of rentals. They lease out an apartment that is currently lived in to unsuspecting tenement seekers, whilst the occupant is out of town for a few weeks or months. Usually, since the apartment can sometimes be well furnished, these agents tell you the story that the present occupant wants to travel out and needs to dispose of everything which is why the price is ridiculously cheap or they even present themselves as the tenant occupying the place. The unsuspecting person who can’t decline such juicy offer as is typical of Nigerians pays and finds out at the end of the day ‘he just got served’.
There are also instances where agents rent houses that have been put on sale to prospective tenants. It’s a fact that the demand for houses is greater than supply and people are constantly looking to change where they stay or find somewhere to start a family, and these agents use it to their advantage.
Since they network and know each other, it is commonplace for two or three agents to show the same house even though they are not the primary agent of the house. One agent can rent out a house that has been legitimately sold to someone else by another agent. At the end of the day, the legitimate owners arrive and the supposed tenants are left out in the cold.
HOW NOT TO GET SCAMMED!
Scams in the real estate industry in Nigeria are real, but real estate scams is not just a Nigerian problem. It is a global phenomenon and there are ways you can protect yourself against being a victim.
First and foremost, do your due diligence! Be thorough before you put your money down. Don’t be quick to pay; refuse to be rushed or pressured into getting a property. If they say it’s too good to pass up, check it and be sure, otherwise, pass it up! There will always be great legitimate deals. They might not come often but they will come, so take your time and do your homework well.
Secondly, don’t look for cheap dead property. If it is, it’s probably fraudulent. Properties in Nigeria, especially in Lagos aren’t cheap. The areas determine how much a land or property is being sold for; so know the asking price for a property in the area you are considering. If it is too cheap, check again and be sure. Yes, it might be favour, but it’s safe to be sure.
Thirdly, avoid paying cash. If you are going to pay, do it through a means that can be traced. Insist on writing checks or any other type of payment that doesn’t leave you hanging in the loop if anything goes wrong. You want to be able to hold someone liable when all is not what they seem; so be wise and avoid payments you can’t trace.
Above all, use a reputable estate agent or developer like to help you through the process. If you do, you can be sure you will get exactly what you are paying for.
Have you been involved in a real estate scam before or know someone who has? Please share your story with us. The real estate scams are taking various forms and shapes as the days go. Let someone else learn from your story. Drop your comments below or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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