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KOKO Money: 21 Things To Know Before A Buying Land Or Property In Nigeria

Buying a land is considered one of the oldest forms used to determine how wealthy a person is in Nigeria.



In times past, it is not unusual to see people measure a person’s wealth by the amount of land they own. Times have passed, and people now understand that there are a thousand and one more ways to determine this. However, the value placed on land cannot be undermined. For some, buying a land is one of those goals to achieve before a certain age or retirement.

At some point in life, you might consider yourself buoyant enough to be your own landlord. One option often considered by a lot of people is buying land to build a house i.e their dream home. Also, to the real estate beginner or pro, buying land for investment is considered one of the surest ways to make profits in the real estate industry. There are, however, different reasons why people decide on buying a land. Whether it is a plot of land or an acre, there are definitely, however, things to consider when buying a land.

A lot of consideration has to be in place because buying a land does not come at a penny cost. Either it is your life savings or spare cash, you would want to safeguard your money from fraudsters and at the same time make the best decision on your investment. It is not enough to bank on your relationship with whoever is selling the land, you should be concerned about if it is legit or not. It is in the same vein that you don’t just on buying a land because you like the area, there are certain things to consider also.

Therefore, the article is aimed at giving an expository on how to make the best decision and avoid being scammed.

Budget Is Important When Buying A Land
The budget is the first thing to be considered when buying a land. It does not matter if you have determined to buy a land in Lagos or any other part of the country, the most important thing is having a budget. It is not about just having the desire to buy a land, the real question is do you have the budget for it? No matter the amount you might have saved, it is always important to make research on the cost of buying a land and the extra expenses that are associated with it.

A budget serves as a guide, it allows you to make the best use of your funds. Examples of the extra expenses that you might want to consider when planning your budget are; legal fees: this is usually 5% of the cost of the land; Agency fees are also around 5% of the cost of the land; survey plan: depending on your choice of location, it is usually in the range of N100,000 to N300,000; the cost of putting up a fence in order to secure your land after purchase (you definitely don’t want to leave it bare); and also the cost of getting all the required documents such as Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Governor’s consent etc. from the government.  All these are some of the extra costs you definitely want to add to your budget from the onset to avoid a financial headache when buying a land.

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Location Of The Land: Definitely, there is more to just buying a land. A lot of things are considered before making a purchase; one of which is choosing the perfect location for your land. Like many other real estate properties, the location plays a vital role in the overall value of the land. The amount a particular land might be sold for is dependant on many factors as earlier stated, however, one of those factors is the location of a land.

The price of a land in Lekki would definitely be different from that of a Land in Ikeja. Another thing to be considered when choosing the location of the land is the potential growth of the area. You would want to ask yourself what the growth of the particular area would be like in ten to twenty years time. Inasmuch as land does not depreciate, having a strategic location would increase your chances of making more value on future sales.

Land Sizes To Consider When Buying A Land: This is likely the first thing you want to know as a landowner to be. You might have come across various terms such as plots, acres, hectares etc. and probably don’t know the difference. They are different land sizes and also play vital roles in the prices of a land. It is the same as buying a unit product for let’s say N30, buying 6 units of the same product means N30 multiplied by 6. This means the total price for 6 units of the product is N180. You have to be aware of the appropriate size of the land, hence, familiarizing yourself with the definitions is a good way to start.
Plots: A plot is described as a marked piece of Land for the purpose of farming or building. A plot is an arbitrary term used to describe a land division set out for developmental purpose. Also, it is not unusual to see adverts like property for sale or plots of land for sale.  It is, however, important to know the size of a full plot in order not to be duped. The size of a plot vary for different reasons but according to Nigeria’s land division, the recommended plot for a house construction is 50 x 100ft.
Acres: An acre is a bigger size compared to a plot. It is almost the equivalent of a standard football field – this is the standard unit of measurement used by most land sellers. It is one of the land sizes to consider when buying a land. Identifying an acre by its measurement is easy, it is the product of a rectangle plot of land that is about 4,046 square meter or 43,560 square feet. An acre usually consists of 6 plots, each measuring about 60 x 120ft. However, an acre is roughly 40% of a hectare.
Hectares (ha): The hectare is the largest of the three sizes. A hectare measures about 100m x 100m or 328 feet x 328 feet or 10,000 square meters. A hectare is about two and a half acres which are usually about 15 plots. What the size of a hectare should be, has been a bone of contention between prospective buyers and real estate developers.

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It is important to note that these measurements vary across Nigeria. Though the above measurements are standard, but due to factors like land location, possession, and circumstances leading to the transaction, there are different variations in measurements. Before now plots were approximately 1000 square meters but as the value and prices for land rose you get the same quote per plot but it can be 400 square meters or less in government reserved areas in cities like Lagos, Kano, Kaduna etc.

Other cities in Nigeria like new layouts in Calabar offer about 1,100 square meters for commercial plots. In places like Niger-Delta where issues of land are usually tensed it is always hard to get anything above 450 square meters. This does not in any way mean that there are no states that offer the standard measurements – 60’ x 120’, 60’ x 100’, 80’ x 120’ etc.
Lagos for example, the standard measurement for a plot of land is 60’ x 120’ – 18m x 18m i.e 648 square meters. Other cities in the country also offer 50’ x 100’ measurement for a plot of land. For instance, the standard measurement in Edo and Port Harcourt is 50’ x 100’. There are also other considerations to be put in place; while a 50’ x 100’ plot of land might fit a building in Benin, it might not be allowed in Delta or Lagos State. This is because of the longer setbacks needed for the road – 6 meters and 9 meters respectively.
It is very important to take notes of these variations in measurements as they affect each state. You should know whether a land seller is trying to dupe or not.

Legal Documents 
Buying land in Nigeria involve various legal requirements and key procedures to be followed. The first key step towards purchasing a land in Nigeria is to engage a lawyer who can conduct a land search in respect of the property and investigate the title document of the land.

It is really important to have a lawyer who is grounded in property law practice before embarking on a land purchase. This is so because a lawyer would ensure one does not run into legal troubles with land documentation after purchase, and also by virtue of Nigerian laws it is only a legal practitioner that are actually allowed to prepare legal documents (instruments) for conveyancing or transfer of an interest in a land for a fee.

SUMMARY OF STEPS FOR BUYING LAND & HOUSE IN NIGERIA

The following steps are important and must be carefully followed for buying land in Nigeria:

  • First, the buyer must demand and obtain all relevant land title documents from the seller.
  • Buyer may engage a lawyer to investigate the title of the seller and also conduct a due diligence in respect of the transactions.
  • Buyer’s lawyer will conduct search at land registry and investigate the land’s title accordingly.
  • If satisfied, seller or buyer may go ahead to prepare a contract of sale, which shall be signed by both parties. Buyer can go ahead and make deposit or pay all the property sum at this point.
  • Upon competition of the entire payment, seller or buyer may prepare and sign the document transferring the interest in the land, which could be deed of assignment or conveyance.
  • Buyer may go ahead and perfect the title of the land with government immediately.
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Of the process of purchasing a land, there a number of relevant documents required from the seller to be able to effectively validate the transaction. These documents are essential as they tend to prove the title that the buyer possesses in relation to the land. It is crucial that one be aware that there are actually various kinds of land documents in Nigeria. These documents include:

  • Approved survey plan: This is a crucial title document that helps to reveal the real ownership status in any land and landed properties’ transactions. It can also help to reveal whether such land is not under any government acquisition.
  • Deed of Assignment/ Conveyance: It is a really important document, which should be prepared by either seller or buyer of the land after the conclusion of any land transaction. It is the document that transfer an interest in land from one person to land. Where the seller previously purchased the land from another buyer, it is important for the buyer to demand for the copy this document to enable him or her trace the history of the property to be purchased.
  • Probate & Letter of Administration: Where in any property’s transaction, the owner is late, it is important for any prospective buyer to demand for the grant of probate or letter of administration in respect of the property. Any documents directly owned by a deceased in respect of his or her property before demise becomes invalidated after his or her death for the purpose of transferring title or conveying legal interest in the said property. The grant of probate or letter of administration is the only official document that serves as a legal title in respect of any land or house owned by a deceased person. Such a document must name Executors or Administrators who can legally sign any document transferring interest in the property, which is called Assent.
  • Certificate of Occupancy: This document certifies the legal ownership status of any land in Nigeria irrespective of its use. It is usually delivered to the owner of a parcel of land by the government attesting to the owner’s interest to the land where such interest is actually in accordance with the applicable laws. It is a legal document indicating that an individual that has acquired an interest in land having been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the governor.
  • Power of Attorney: It generally required where a person is actually acting for another person, companies or individuals as the agent. It Is a document that authorizes a particular person to act on the behalf of another.

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