Purchase of land or developed property in Nigeria is one of the dreams of citizens. It can be a very exciting and very scary prospect at the same time because, in Nigeria, there is always the risk of fraud. Therefore, this guide is meant to explain the process everyone who is interested in buying property should follow in order to ensure that it is done safely and properly. Purchase of a property is a big step involving a substantial long-term financial commitment, so think hard about what you can afford. Also, if you intend to live in the property, then you need to be sure that it is in a location you are happy at and can be for a very long time. Once you decide on a budget and location, then you are good to go and you can move on to the next step.
When you find a property you are interested in, you should always make sure that the individual you are dealing with is the owner of the land or the landed property or someone who has the valid authority to sell the property. Many time when dealing with property in Nigeria, you hear of fraudulent individuals who try to sell the property which they do not own to unsuspecting buyers. If you are considering to purchase a property in Nigeria or already in the middle of a property transaction you need to follow some professional advice in this article.
Most people who purchase land in Lagos and elsewhere don’t really understand the meaning of the Real Estate terms involve in land and landed property. As a potential buyer wishing to buy a land or build a new house you must be conversant with a few of these figures. The first hurdle is to understand the system of Land measurement in Nigeria. In Nigeria today, Land is measured in Hectares, Acres, Meters and Feet. These measurements are affected by factors, which include development pattern, human and environmental factors.
Let’s start by asking what is the size of a standard plot in Nigeria?
According to the dictionary meaning of a plot: A plot is a marked out piece of Land for the purpose of building or farming. The word ‘plot’ is an arbitrary term used to describe a land division carved out for property development.
The size of a plot can vary for different reasons but according to Nigeria’s land division, the appropriate plot for house construction is 50 x 100ft which can accommodate a standard house with a small compound. To better understand land divisions used in Nigeria, different units of area are used as follows:
A hectare is one of the least known metric units and one which potential buyers and Estate developers seem to struggle with: It is a land measuring:
- 100m x 100m OR
- 328ft x 328ft OR
- 10,000 sqm OR
- Two and a half acres OR
- 15 plots.
An Acre is a standard unit of measurement used by Land sellers and it is almost equivalent to the size of a standard football field. An Acre is a product of any rectangular plot of land giving a total of:
- 4,046sqm OR
- 43,560 sq ft OR
- 6 plots (each measuring 60ft x 120ft)
In Lagos State, the standard size of a plot is 60ft x 120ft (18m x 36m i.e. 648 sqm), while in some other cities of the country, plots are measured in 50ft x 100ft.
How to Understand Land Title and Document
A Survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor-general in Lagos as it relates to survey issues in Lagos. A survey plan must contain the following information:
- The name of the owner of the land surveyed
- The Address or description of the land surveyed
- The size of the land surveyed
- The drawn-out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document
- The beacon numbers
- The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up
- A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not
According to Land Use Decree on the 28th of March, 1978 that vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the State Governors. The Land Use Act coupled with other laws made it possible for the Governor who was now the owner of all lands in the state to actually have the power to Acquire more lands compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide amenities for the greater good of the citizens.
Fortunately, the government recognizes that indigenes of different sections of the country have a right to existence, a right to the land of their birth. Hence, it is customary for the state government to cede a portion of land to the original owners (natives) of each area. An Excision means basically taking apart from a whole and that part that has been excised will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state.
Deed of Assignment
A Deed of Assignment is an Agreement between the Seller of a Land or Property and a Buyer of that Land or property showing evidence that the Seller has transferred all his rights, his title, his interest and ownership of that land to that the Seller that has just bought land.
The Deed of Assignment has been exchanged between both parties, it has to be recorded in the land registry to show legal proof that the land has exchanged hands and the public should be aware of the transaction. Such recorded Deed of Assignment come in the form of either a Governorâ Consent or Registered Conveyance.
Certificate of Occupancy
A Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) issued by the Lagos State Government officially leases Lagos land to you, the applicant, for 99 yrs. As already indicated above, all lands belong to the Government.
A C of O, however, is the officially recognized Document for demonstrating Right to a Land. What happens after 99 years? That question is still subject of debate among experts. Most have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Others postulate that as the new owner of the land, you the buyer can renew the certificate of occupancy when it expires. That makes sense, but for now, is largely a case of we shall see. Understand this write-up, please. It will help you as a realtor.
Documents Require for the Processing of CofO
In a state like Lagos for example, you need the following documents
- Survey plan duly signed by a registered surveyor
- Evidence of record copy submission
- Deed of assignment
- Land information
- Four passports. These are to be taken to ministry of lands at Alausa
A Gazette is an Official record book where all special government details are spelt out, detailed and recorded
A gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them. It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.
A Gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a Certificate of Occupancy to grant title to the Villagers. A community owning a gazette can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.
You can demand a copy of gazette if any. Do not buy land without the advice of a registered surveyor. The community might not even have the copy of gazette or might have misplaced it. All gazetted land are recorded in SG’s office. Some land might be free from Govt acquisition and not yet gazetted. A good and qualified surveyor will guide you. You need to engage the service of a registered surveyor. He will visit the proposed site, pick coordinates and take the coordinates to the office of Surveyor General of the state to determine the status of the site.