The Need for Due Diligence Before Buying Property in Nigeria

Posted by Don Okereke /  January 26, 2014 / in Buying & Selling

The wanton incidents of prospective property, land buyers been duped of their hard earned money can be attributed to the paucity of doing a due diligence investigation prior to paying for the envisaged property or parcel of land. This is because many survey plans, deeds of assignment, certificates of occupancy, government allocation letters, and government gazettes bandied about by fraudulent property sellers out there, are forged. It takes an expert to figure this out. There are nasty tales of people falling prey to the whims and caprices of desperate and unscrupulous so-called land sellers, omoniles, and quack surveyors. Prospective land buyers are strongly advised in their own interest to stringently investigate the genuineness, validity or otherwise of a property before parting with their money.

A survey search on a property will reveal whether for instance, that area has been designated for any specific purpose in the near future by the government. For instance, a piece of land mapped out for agricultural purpose is definitely a no-go-area if you look forward to building a residential apartment. You will have yourself to blame if you unwittingly purchase any of the so-called "committed lands or government acquisition". It takes a good surveyor to ascertain the precise coordinate of a piece of a property and to figure out whether a land gazette or any other document is fake or not.

From the foregoing, it goes without saying that you need the services of a qualified and a street smart property solicitor, a surveyor or any other expert well knowledgeable about land matters to guide and help you in ascertaining the genuineness or otherwise of that property. So before you pay for a property, it is advisable you collect if possible, photocopies of the property's survey plan, deed of assignment, certificate of occupancy from the person that wants to sell the property to you, pass them to your solicitor, surveyor or a professional and they will in turn use the information to do a property search at the land bureau or land registry. If for any reason, a prospective property seller refuses to release photocopies of the said property's documents to you for investigation prior to payment, you don't need a soothsayer to tell yo that something is wrong somewhere.

The proposed Geographic Information System by Lagos State government will put an end to sharp practices by fake property agents. As they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Better to part with little professional fees than to foolhardily part with your money and regret later. Once more, investigate before you take the plunge.

Read Part II of the series

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