There is something called Social Due Diligence, you have to learn how to do it. Please learn from my story of how I almost lost out in a real estate scam.
In this organisation, I was having about 38 staff strength. I was having branch offices, everything was going fine until we stumbled into a business with one of our clients. And that business crumbled everything.
It was one of our principal whom we’ve been managing her properties for quite a while. She is an elderly woman of above 80 years of age. Each time you see her, she is always busy praying; she is a highly religious woman.
She approached us saying she has plots of land in front of her house and would like us to develop it. She suggested we develop block of flats. Having done feasibility studies, we went there for inspection to find out what will be possible. The viability report of that environment provided that we should construct a bock of four flats; 2 numbers of 2 bedroom flat, 2 numbers of 3 bedroom flat and then we instructed our lawyers to commence documentation.
My lawyer prepared the documentation which was 4 copies in all and was delivered to her. She signed her own part and returned except for the witness column to be signed. While that was on going, due to the close business and personal relationship we had with the elderly woman, and also because we were assisting her with her travel document, we never envisaged what eventually happened.
We applied for the approval, did the drawings and started work on site. She told us then that she didn’t want her son who resides in Nigeria to sign the witness column that she would prefer her other son whom she would be visiting soon in the states to sign the document, since we were also helping her out with her travel documents.
We were almost done with the project when she traveled, precisely at the painting stage. She spent some months and we had to wait. We had to wait because there were things she needed to consent. She never told us she will be spending that much time in the states. After the wait, she came and we demanded for the document with her so that we can perfect it with the state government. It was then she told us that her son seized the document from her.
I recall in one of our meetings that the son called from the US and was blabbing, asking us to provide a proof that we were contracted to develop that property.
But something happened, while we were sourcing for finance, her daughter who resides in US came over and helped us to use her own property as a collateral. She introduced us to a bank in the united states. So we entered into another agreement with her daughter, incorporating all those that was in the first agreement, which was an idea from our lawyer. It was as if the lawyer foresaw what could happen. He said if the initial document gets missing then the one with the bank will revalidate the agreement.
However, that second agreement was done independently on the mother (the elderly woman).
At the long run, we had to involve the police. When we got to the police, we were being looked at as the criminal in the matter because the son got the mother a lawyer and they made up a story stating that they never signed or contracted us or entered into any agreement with us to develop that property. They stated that we were only managing the properties not developing. But she shot herself on the foot when she said she woke up suddenly and saw us developing the property.
So based on that, the police were thinking we were trying to play on her intelligence because she is an elderly woman and thought we were trying to dupe her.
Meanwhile, the doctor who was not in support of what was happening sent all the document in her own possession down to us.
So the police asked us to back our claim up with a document or we are the fraud. So when we got to the station, our lawyer brought out the document and showed to the police man in charge. Immediately she saw the document, the woman started pleading, went straight on her knees and started begging. Then she said she never knew we had another agreement with the daughter.
I recall when the elderly woman said the document was seized, her own lawyer suggested we prepare another one which my lawyer did and submitted to her lawyer only for her to suddenly have a change of lawyer
In the end, the matter was taken to the high court and just last year November we got our judgement from the high court and it was favorable. Processes are still on but we are grateful to God.
Funny thing is, each time she talks to me, she tells me she is nearer to her grave and doesn’t want to go meet her maker with debts. Her actions really shook us in the end.
Doing any real estate transaction, due diligence has always been the watch word. You must conduct your due diligence. There is what is called social due diligence, meaning it does not cost you anything to go round where the property is and ask people questions around rather than limiting it to papers. Because you might have all the genuine document with you and in the end not take possession. So conduct the professional and social search of the person involved and the property involved.
Read Also: PROPERTY SCAM: Red Alert!
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