For many, buying land is not much of a big deal, what is more worrisome is the ease of being defrauded in a country such as ours during land transactions. There have been many cases of land scams in the past and recent times. This article highlights the 10 commandments of land transactions in Nigeria every prospecting landlord must adhere to strictly to avoid heartbreaks.
Many unsuspecting victims have fallen prey to Omoniles’ who lay claim to a land that is being disputed. Land scam cases are prevalent in Nigerian’s urban cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Enugu, Warri and Calabar. Land scam artists seem to be more than real estate professionals that it becomes imperative to do your due diligence before entering a land transaction.
Here are the 10 commandments of Land transactions anyone planning to purchase landed properties in Nigeria must adhere to in other not to fall prey to Land scam artist that seem to be more than the land in question.
1. Thou Shall Have a Budget: Only having dreams of a land purchase but no budget is a huge sin in the eye of the gods that steer the wheels of real estate. Invariably it is sinful to dream of a land purchase without a budget.
No matter the amount you have saved in your bank account, always take the time to research the other fees that are usually associated with buying a land. Legal fees, agency fees, survey plan and most importantly, cost of the land depending on the location of the land and state must be taken into cognizance. Also, the cost of putting up a fence to secure your land immediately you purchase it, cost of perfecting your documents with the Government at the Land Registry such as a C of O, Governor’s Consent, Ratification fees and survey land information should be under your radar.
2. Thou Shall Demand for Documents Before Buying a Land: Seriously, how can anyone pay for a land before seeing or verifying the the authenticity of the land documents? Strange but true, I have witnessed and heard about such occurrence a lot of times. And when it does happen you would think that the culprit was under a spell when the land transaction happened.
3. Thou Shall Carry Out a Proper Land Verification Search: Ultimately this commandment is an offshoot of the second commandment. Unequivocally, do not buy any land without performing a land check on the owner, the land and the documents the person selling possesses. There are so many things to cross reference at this stage, more reason you must be patient and take as much time as you want to do your verification. Remember, it is your hard-earned money that is at stake and not your agent’s cash or the owner of the property’s money. No matter the pressure that is heaped on you by these people to buy the property, it is only advisable you don’t give in to the whims and caprices of anyone involved.
4. Thou Shall Always Involve Professionals: Honestly, you should never go into land transactions without involving professionals. In fact, involving a Lawyer and a Surveyor is non-negotiable. These professionals are important to your real estate transaction. The lawyer is the only one that can draw up your contract papers legally. Any other landed document drawn up by any other person is null and void and you would not be allowed to process your papers at the Land registry.
A Registered Surveyor on the other hand is the only one that can draw up your survey plans. Without the survey plan you have no description of the land you intend to buy.
5. Thou Shall Not Buy a Land Without Viewing The Land Physically: I don’t even know how people manage to do this. Why would anyone buy anything without actually seeing what he/she is buying? Buying a property as huge as land, you should never take the risk of buying that land because of the pictures of the land you see on social media or what you’ve heard people say about it. Seeing is believing ! No matter how beautiful or attractive the land being advertised appears please go there and look at it. Too many Real estate developers and Agents have duped thousands of Nigerians using beautifully drawn flyers promoting lands that are equivalent to Aso rock estate in choice locations, only to realize that they are dump yards not fit for human habitation.
6. Thou Shall Not Buy a Disputed Land: No matter what happens in life, you must always trust your instinct and 90% of the time, your conscience would never lie. The truth is that many times when we walk into a scam there was a warning before the eventual duping exercise. Something tugs at your mind to warn you of the pit ahead you are walking towards. If you see things like fenced lands that cannot be justified by the owner or no proof of ownership, no survey plan or its layout, or there is a minor dispute that was just resolved and there are omoniles involved, it is time to wear your thinking cap and end the deal.
7. Thou Shall Not Pay In Cash In The Course Of Land Transactions: Don’t dare! Everything must be properly documented from the cost of the land down to the receipt or survey fees.
8. Thou Shall Not Ever Listen To an Omonile’s Opinion About The Title of Land They Possess Without You Verifying it: This is a common sin people entering into land transactions commit. They listen to fake land sellers who tell their victims what they think they want to hear. They tell lies such that the land has Government approved papers such as certificate of Occupancy with no shred of evidence. When that happens just know that there is fire on the mountain. Look before you leap!
9. Thou Shall Put All Their Landed Transactions Details In Writing: I really do not understand how some people purchase land yet there is no proof of the deed of assignment or contract of sale between the buyer and the seller. Seriously, can someone explain how that works? No receipt, not even a survey plan. How do you then prove ownership? What’s even your link to the owner? How do you trace him?
The 3 basic things a Buyer must have when they pay for a land is a Receipt, Deed of Assignment and a Survey Plan. Without these 3 things your ownership of the land might just be temporarily because the transaction is bound to go sour one day.
10. Thou Shall Take Possession of The Land You Bought Immediately: First thing you should do after the purchase of a land is by constructing a small fence around it in other to claim ownership of the land. Don’t even think of letting the land lie fallow and expect it will always be there whenever you need it.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed!