How To Protect Yourself When Buying A House In Nigeria.

While most Nigerians wish to buy houses or apartments in Nigeria, it is unfortunate that they do not know the things they can do to protect themselves and their investments from fraudulent sellers as there is inadequate information on this. The glossy fliers and captivating advertising make a lot of buyers susceptible to the antics of these property sellers. They forget that the seller is only after their money and that very pleasant and persuasive real estate agent is after his commission.
Here are a few points every buyer must consider before paying for that house in Nigeria.
Get a property lawyer to conduct due-diligence and guide you on the transaction.
This is important as your property lawyer acts as an interface between you and the seller. He ensures you are not shortchanged or your rights as a buyer infringed on. Also, he interprets legal documents and points out clauses in these documents which may be unfavorable to you.
Request for all title documents over the land the building is on.
Another step is for the seller of such property to provide copies of title documents over the land the building is built on. The type of title document possesed by the seller determines whether he has the legal right to sell or not. Also, it determines the quality of title the buyer gets from the seller.Furthermore, the title possessed by the seller determines the type of documents to be signed by both parties.
Get your land surveyor to obtain the coordinates of the land and chart it.
It is very important for the buyer to contact his land surveyor to pick the beacon numbers of the land to determine if it falls under government acquisition or not. Also, the surveyor measures the size of the land to determine if the size is up to the advertised size.
Investigate the title of the land.
After obtaining copies or information of title documents held by the seller of the property, the next step is to investigate if the title exists or not and if there are any encumbrances on the title. The title investigation can take place in Lands Bureau of the State where the property is located, the Federal lands Registry or relevant government agencies. However, if the seller doesn't have government title over the property, your lawyers can contact the original owners of the land to confirm if they indeed sold to the seller who in turn wants to sell to you.
Have your property lawyer read through the Conveyance documents to point out unfavorable clauses.

This point is very important and most of the cases of real estate litigation stem from failure of the buyers to get expert legal counsel when buying. In fact, a lot of buyers of property in Nigeria have been sold leases instead of total assignments and the danger of this is that very soon, the property would revert back to the sellers while the buyers would be left high and dry without money or property.
Ideally, the buyer's lawyer drafts the documents to be executed between both parties but some estate developers insist that their lawyers draft the documents. In cases like this, the seller's lawyer must thoroughly inspect the documents to ensure that ridiculous and fraudulent covenants are not inserted.
Get a structural engineer to ascertain the building's quality and point out defects.
Mere looking at an existing building, the seller may not be in a position to determine if it is structurally sound or not. However, a structural engineer would accurately inform the buyer of structural defects on the building. This is very important as it saves the buyer from disaster.
Demand for copies of the Approved Building plan, Architectural drawing and Survey plan.
If there is a building on that land, then it must have an approved building plan. If it doesn't have it, you are buying a house that would be demolished someday.
Also, the buyer must request for copies of the approved architectural plan as well as registered survey plan.
Request for evidence of payment of outstanding rates and taxes on the property.
The seller must prove that he isn't owing the government or any of its agencies taxes, rates and fees of any kind. One way of ascertaining this is to ensure that the seller shows receipts, tellers, tax certificates or such other evidence of payment as applicable.
If the buyer buys a property with outstanding taxes owed the government, such buyer would never be able to perfect his title documents with the government unit he has paid all outstanding sums that the seller owes.
Speak to other neighbours living in or around the property.
From experience, some of the most helpful information comes from those who live on the building or around it as they possess information which the seller might have been withholding. Every buyer needs to speak to at least one person living near the property such buyer intends to buy.
All payments made should be duly documented and receipts issued.
Payments for property should be made in such form that it is traceable to the seller. Cash transfers into accounts bearing the name of the seller or bank drafts in the seller's name are advised. This is because it makes it very difficult for the seller to deny receipt of payment when official bank documents of payment are in his name.

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