In Nigeria, almost all first-time land buyers are always afraid of being scammed while buying landed properties, especially in Lagos and the reason is not far-fetched.
Every Nigeria’s family dream is to become a homeowner and because of this, there are land scammers out there looking to rip you off your hard-earned money.
This evil act of duping innocent land buyers is not only perpetrated by the omo oniles (land grabbers) alone, it now spans across several other people such as relatives, dubious real estate agents, surveyors and even your very ‘trusted’ lawyer.
Read this excerpt (posted yesterday, 21 November 2018) on The Nation Newspaper Online of how a lawyer duped a Lagos businessman of N4.5m (four million five hundred thousand naira) on a property deal.
An Igbosere High Court in Lagos has remanded a lawyer, Chidi Uzoije Amadi, for allegedly jumping bail and changing his identity, after his arraignment in 2016 for allegedly obtaining N4.5million by false pretence.
It alleged that Amadi, 52, obtained the sum from a businessman, Augustine Chigbo Okoro, in 2013, on the pretext that he could secure him 20 plots of land at the Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos State, for N200,000 per plot.
He allegedly failed to do so, did not return the money and fled after being granted bail.
Prosecution counsel Mrs. K.O. Sarumi said the alleged offences contravened sections 285 and 312 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Obviously, the businessman; Mr Okoro trusted this lawyer and didn’t even bothered to asked questions. He just paid him N4.5m (allegedly) and was waiting for the land which did not come forth.
Read the full story of the alleged scam on The Nation Newspaper Online (but do not forget to come back here for the main gist of how to avoid been scammed).
This news of the lawyer; Mr Amadi and the land buyer; Mr Okoro made me write this piece today and I believe every intending land buyers will benefit from this real estate tip.
Here Are 3 Reasons Why Land Buyers Get Duped in Nigeria
From all stories of land deal gone wrong that I have heard and read about, most times, it is as a result of trusting too much, not doing due diligence and at times, greed.
Trusting Too Much
Irrespective of the person involved, be it your agent, surveyor or lawyer, always go some extra miles to check if the land is genuine by visiting the site and sighting the land documents.
Anyone that wants to sell lands to you and refuses to take you to the land should not be trusted. You should see what you are paying for, right?
And when dealing with real estate developers, make sure the developer has it signpost mounted on the land. No family or community would accept a signpost of a company on their own land – never!
Not Doing Due Diligence
Most people think seeing the land they want to buy is enough to say it is real. You know, it is easy for anyone to take you to just any land claiming it belongs to him/her.
Even after seeing the land, request to see the documents backing up the land. While no one will send you the original copy of the documents (for security reasons), you can as well request to sight the documents at their office or get a photocopy (if possible).
If it is a genuine and trusted company, sighting original documents might be enough. But you can still go further to do some research at the Lands Registry to ascertain the genuine status of the land and its documents.
Once you’re satisfied with your research, then you can go ahead to make payment for the land.
Some buyers do make mistake by paying to their agents or lawyers. Please do not make that mistake. Pay directly to the real estate company and if you are buying from the omo oniles or an individual, make sure you ask for the real owner(s) and make payment to him/her and other parties involved should be aware.
When it is too good to be true, think again. Imagine someone promising you a plot of land at Lekki Phase 1 for N50m in 2018. You obviously don’t need an angel to tell you that it is a scam.
Some land deals may look like awoof, while some are genuine (such as distress sales), some are outright scam. It is your duty to do due diligence before parting away with your hard-earned money.
So How Can I Be Sure I Am Not Scammed in My Next Land Purchase Deal?
Whether people get scammed or not, many people will still buy land. It is the prayer of every Nigerian home to own landed properties because owning lands is a generational asset and a vehicle to future fortune if done right.
However, you can exclude yourself from the statistic of land scam victims in Nigeria if you could follow the steps listed below;
1. Inspect the Land
Do not assume you’ve seen the pictures of the land through email, on Facebook or WhatsApp and believe it.
Find time and let the agent or seller take you to the land. If you are not in Nigeria at that time, connect the agent with your relative or friend. Or let the agent do a WhatsApp video call right on the site to be sure the agent is on the said land.
And while on the land, look out for signs that may not be friendly like ‘this land is not for sale’. If it is a land belonging to an estate developer, make sure their signpost is mounted and it is the name of the company that is written on it. If not, ask for the reason(s).
And if the land belongs to an individual and it is fenced and gated, demand the gate to be opened to be sure it is the real owner selling the land to you. Just be careful and do not go alone.
2. Ask for the Title and Documents of the Land
It is so sad that over 60% of intending land buyers I have come in contact with do not even bother asking for the title of the land they want to buy.
Buying a land and receiving just a receipt do not make you the legal owner of that property. Before you buy that land, ask for the title of the land.
The following are land titles in Nigeria;
- Certificate of Occupancy
- Governor’s Consent
While other important land documents are;
- Contract of Sale (CoS)
- Survey and
- Deed of Assignment
Contract of Sale, Survey and Deed of Assignment are not land titles but land documents and are as important as land titles.
NOTE: ‘Excision in Progress’ is not listed because it is not a land title.
READ ALSO: 6 Important Land Documents Every Land Buyers in Nigeria Should Know.
3. Confirm the Land Documents
After seeing the land and the documents, you should verify if the land is free from government acquisition and if the title documents are genuine.
You can verify land documents at the Land Registry and at the office of the Surveyor General of the State.
If you don’t know how to go about the verification, use the service of trusted property lawyers or experts in the field. I can also help you do a search on any land in Lagos with a token.
Click here to WhatsApp chat me if you need my service. But if you are buying the land from my listed properties, it is advisable you use the service of other experts to ascertain the genuity of the lands I’m selling to you and their documents.
4. Pay to the Right Person
It can be very funny when buying land in Lagos, especially when you are buying the land from the omo oniles because if you pay to the wrong person, you’re duped.
I have seen where a particular land buyer bought land from an omo onile but when he was about to construct a fence round his land, he was approached by the head of the family who owns the land. Long story short, the man had to pay another money for the land because he was said to have paid the wrong person who didn’t deliver the money to the family.
And if you intend buying land from a real estate company, make sure you pay directly to the company’s bank account and not to their agents or consultants. This is why as a trusted real estate consultant, I do not collect money from my client directly, instead, I send them the company’s account details to pay to.
While you might not know the right person to pay to when buying land from an omo onile, it is very easy with real estate companies.
5. Fence Your Land
After going through the 4 steps above, it is very necessary to fence and gate your property especially if you bought the land from an individual or omo oniles.
Or you can mount a signpost or short bricks and write “This Land is Not for Sale” on it.
Doing this will keep off land grabbers and would serve as a tip-off to other would-be landowners.
READ ALSO: Buying Land? Here’s How to Avoid Losing Your Hard-Earned Money to Land Scammers.
You can’t say because you saw a car had an accident you won’t buy your own car, right?
Irrespective of this land scam trends, many Nigerians are still landowners and many will still be. The difference is due diligence and working with a trusted real estate consultant.
There are many of my clients who had been victims to land fraudsters and were amazed at how easy it is to acquire land in Lagos while buying through us.
Once you have a genuine and trusted real estate consultant on your land deals, your work is half done.
Landicon Realtors is a trusted real estate consultant you can always talk to, any time any day, about buying landed properties in Lagos, Nigeria and you will experience a first-class service from us.
Do you want to join our over 96 happy clients who have become happy landlords in the Lekki-Ajah-Ibeju Lekki corridor? We are just a call away; 08036129474.
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