The real estate purchase is one critical step every person who is gainfully employed is bound to make at one time or another. Apart from having a place to call home, real estate has become one of the steady investment alternatives in Nigeria. Nowadays, it seems most people are more focused on buying land in Lagos.
The most middle-class people in Nigeria who are willing to engage in real estate purchase prefer to purchase their properties around the land because of the accelerated increase on the properties around that axis. Buying land in Lekki, especially around Ibeju Lekki could also be a good source of investment for those seeking to simply invest in the real estate in Nigeria.
First, it is advised that anyone seeking to buy land in Lagos engage the services of a lawyer to help trace and search the title of the property he or she intends to purchase.
The fact that the property that is about to be purchased falls within a big estate does not confer a good title on such property. Therefore, everyone buying land in Ibeju Lekki where new estates seem to be developing every day should engage the services of a lawyer to search the history of the proposed land to be purchased and documentation attached to it. There are documents required for land purchase in Nigeria, which every reasonable buyer of land must take notice of or be aware of before committing to a land’s purchase. A Solicitor would determine the specific documents required for each transaction based on the circumstances of the property to be purchased.
By and large, there is a lot of preliminary things to know before buying land in Nigeria. Buying land or real estate in Lagos could become problematic upon purchase or later in the future if no due diligence is conducted before such purchase.
The second precaution that is key is for the buyer is to seek to perfect his or her own title. Subject to the provisions of Land Use Act, Governor’s consent is required in every state except the Federal Capital Territory that falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of F.C.T. A buyer’s failure to perfect his or her title is as good as no lawful transfer of property has taken place on the purchased land in accordance with the registry of the state.
Section 1 of the Land Use Act states that all lands in each state are vested in the governor of such state to hold in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians. Where a buyer has neglected to perfect his or her own title, or the developer or assignor has also neglected to perfect his own title too, the governor of such state might still lay claim to such property for overriding public interest without any compensation to the affected owner.
The third but not the least precaution a buyer should take while buying a land in Lagos from the developer or any other seller is to insist on a contract of sale, especially where a developer or seller is asking the buyer to pay a premium on the land for some proposed infrastructures such as electricity, road network among others.
Contract of sale is a preliminary agreement in a land transaction before a deed of assignment. In a situation where the developer is offering a buyer 6 months or 2 years payment option plan, the buyer is at mercy of such developer if there is no contract that defines the rights and obligations of both parties. There are have been cases of people who have cried out severally to complain that their developers arbitrarily increased the price of an agreed property, especially a bare land after they have made deposits for such property. Contract sale will usually prevent gazumping i.e. owner or developer can not unilaterally increase the price of the property again as long as the purchaser is still keeping to his own side of the bargain by making timely payment as agreed.
In conclusion, it is advisable for anyone buying land in Lekki or any part of Lagos should firstly consult with a legal practitioner who can properly ascertain the risks associated with such transaction or property in question. Although there are so many good developers and sellers that have kept to their promises by delivering what they promised as when due, however, one can not predict when he or she would run to the hands of a rogue or unprincipled developer or seller with an intention to defraud someone. But it suffices if as a buyer, you have done the right thing from the beginning.
Written by Real Estate Law Department at Resolution Law Firm, Nigeria
NOTE: Resolution Law Firm represents both local and foreign-based Clients in Land transactions in Lekki and generally within Lagos. The Firm can be reached with the above contact details.