How To Buy Land in Nigeria: Real estate investments continue to be on the rise with more and more people are interested in getting involved. It is a relatively safe investment as the value of realty hardly ever reduce. They are in most cases on the rise. This has made many investors consider this as a safe haven to have their investments. Also, land is one of the factors of production and most businesses depend on the availability of land to carry out production.
Most industries require land for their survival, businesses cannot do without some physical presence, individuals require land for building homes and residential apartments, the government need land for constructions and infrastructural projects.
There are some confusions by people who intend to purchase lands in Nigeria on how they should go about it, the documents they should prepare and seek for, and the professionals who should be involved along the way. This article gives a brief analysis on how a person interested in land can go about purchasing same in Nigeria.
Stages in the Purchase Of Land in Nigeria
There are five major stages that must be passes through for title to land to be completely transferred from one person to another. A person who is interested in buying land in Nigeria must ensure to pass through all of the following stages to complete the purchase of land in Nigeria:
1. Pre-Contract Stage: This is the stage where a buyer takes steps to visit the land in question, have the land surveyed by an estate surveyor if it has not been surveyed, and also initial negotiations begin with respect to the purchase price. This stage is of utmost importance as it gives the buyer the opportunity to know the location of the land in question, the people who own adjacent lands, and also to begin negotiations on how much he is willing to pay for the land.
All enquiries with respect to the land, the ownership claim of the seller, the exact size of the land, and all other enquires which the buyer wishes to make may be made at this point. Enquires as to whether the land is owned by a family, or community of persons or a single individual must be made, as this will determine the mode in which the land in question can be transferred.
2. Contract Stage: This is the point where a Contract of Sale agreement is drafted. This agreement when executed (signed) transfers some interest in the land in question to the seller. This agreement is important as it prevents the owner of the land from selling the land in question to another person pending when the buyer will complete his investigations about the seller’s ownership interests.
After this contract has been drafted, it is exchanged by the parties. It is at this stage that payment of deposit on the contract sum for the purchase of the land in question is made. The contract document is also exchanged at this stage after all the relevant parties have signed.
3. Post Contract Stage: This is the stage where the seller takes steps to investigate and ascertain the title of the person who claims to own the land in question. All the documents giving such person ownership to the land in question such as a Statutory Right of Occupancy, Certificate of Occupancy, Deed of Assignment, Deed of Gift, and any other document which gives the seller title to the land in question are given to the buyer to ascertain the title of the seller.
4. Completion Stage: This is point where the parties prepare the contract Deed of Assignment. This agreement is the document by which the ownership of a particular piece of land is transferred from one person to another. A buyer of land must ensure that the agreement drafted is one that does not contain terms, clauses or conditions which may be inimical to his interest in the long run.
A buyer must take steps to ensure that the agreement is one that will transfer all of the interest of the seller to him and that no other person has a better title to the said land than the seller. When drafting the deed, professionals must be invited to go through the document to ensure the proper interest is transferred and all relevant parties are adequately provided for.
5. Perfection of Title Stage: There are three activities involved in perfecting the title which has been transferred to the buyer of the land in question. The activities are firstly, seeking and obtaining the Governor’s consent to the transaction, obtaining stamp on the agreement and registration of the deed at the land registry. After both parties (vendor and buyer) have agreed on all that concerns the land, the perfection stage is embarked upon.
The first step under the perfection stage is to seek and obtain the consent of the Governor of the state where the land is situated. By virtue of S. 1 of the Land Use Act, all lands in Nigeria are vested in the Governor of the state where that land is situated. The Governor must give his consent before any transfer of an interest in a land within his state can take places. After the consent of the Governor has been sought and obtained, Stamp will be obtained and crested on the Deed of Assignment. The last step involves getting the transaction registered at the Land Registry. This is the final act that must be done in the perfection of title stage.
Professionals Who Involve in The Purchase Of land in Nigeria
The following professionals must be involved in the purchase of land in Nigeria:
a. Legal Practitioner: This is a professional who must be involved in every land transaction carried out in Nigeria. A legal practitioner is concerned with drafting and reviewing the two documents that will be prepared in the course of the transaction- Contract for Sale of Land and Deed of Assignment.
Also, the legal practitioner is the expert who will be saddled with reviewing the title documents of the seller, and who can give a good opinion on whether the seller has a good title to land or not. Also, a legal practitioner can assist the seller in negotiating a fair price for the land after all things have been settled. Also, all the activities involved in the perfection stage are usually carried out by a legal practitioner.
b. Surveyor: There is a need to have the dimensions of the land on the documents to be drafted in the course of the transaction. This is the sole responsibility of the surveyor. Surveying and making pictorial representation of the land on paper. In the absence of these, the transaction may not run smoothly.
Land ownership is of huge significance in Nigeria, as such, care must be taken in purchasing it. The due process must be followed so as not to encounter serous problems with respect to the land in the near future. The above gives a summary of the steps which when followed will bring about a success in the transaction between the parties. The need to include professionals, especially a legal practitioner to facilitate the process cannot be emphasized enough. The professionals are concerned with facilitating the technical aspects of the transaction and ensuring regulatory compliance.