Landed property business has become an all comers’ affair. Almost every Nigerian claims to know how to help one get a land somewhere. Immediately some of these so-called property agents sell a land to a buyer, they disappear into the thin air, leaving the unsuspecting buyer to lick his wounds.
There are also cases whereby people who are in urgent need of plots of land are deceived by crooked agents to pay for a land located on an abandoned government acquisition. By the time the bubble will burst, the seller either has a scripted story to tell or has relocated to another community till the dust settles. Houses where people were already living in have been pulled down as a result of buying a land in the wrong location.
To avoid falling victim when buying a land, and to be guided on what one needs to watch out for, the Chief Executive Officer of GtextHomes, Mr. Stephen Akintayo, has revealed some simple tips for the benefit of prospective buyers and investors.
He also tutored Nigerians on why they must buy a land in certain areas at the expense of other locations in the same city or state. He said that the fact that a certain expanse of land has been lying fallow for decades doesn’t automatically translate to being available for sale.
In his words, buying a land and building a house is something everyone needs to give a deep thought to so as not to at the end of the day regret investing a huge amount of money in property without commensurate returns.
Enjoy reading the wise counsel.
One: Know where to buy your land
There are couple of things that one needs to consider in buying a land or house. But before anything, have it the back of your mind that it is an investment, even if you intend to use it for personal purpose.
For example, I have had situations whereby people were building their houses for personal use, but within the period of erecting the structures, their taste changed. They looked at the community or environment where their children need to school. By the time they were done with the house, they realised that they couldn’t live in that kind of neighbourhood.
Unfortunately, it was also not the kind of neighbourhood that they could easily get a buyer for the house or rent it out for a profitable margin. So, we need to ask ourselves if the location is attractive to buyers. Another aspect that needs to be considered is security in the area. Getting a land in an estate setting is one of the best things anyone can do at the moment due to the security situation in the country.
Two: Get an ideal location for investment purposes
To buy a land and build house that can be rented out gives room for cash flow for the owner. But the greatest mistake people make is that they embark on minor or massive investment in locations that the income level of the people that live there is not high.
At the end of the day, the landlords are shocked that such people are not able to pay their rent. They get upset and frustrated. When you are thinking rental income, you have to look very well at the neighbourhood and the income level of the people there if they can easily afford their rent.
If this is not thoroughly researched, you will spend so much money building a house and you end up technically renting it to people for free. We know that the tenancy law in this part of the world favours the tenant more than the landlord. It takes a long while before you can evict anybody legally from your property.
But if you get a plot and build a house in areas where high-network people live, you will be able to get your rent without much trouble.
Three: Get to know how the land/house you’re buying
It is not easy to look at a land on the surface and say whether it is genuine or not. But one of the easiest ways to know is when the property is cheap, considering the location. Landed properties are not cheap in Nigeria. If anyone is telling you to come and buy a cheap land, then you need to check it again. If the price of the land is far beyond the normal, it is probably not genuine. If indeed the property has a Certificate of Occupancy, then it is not going to be cheap because state governors make the certificate to be one of the most expensive commodities in Nigeria. Scarcity increases the price of any commodity.
If it is buying a house, then you need experts to check the foundation. Some houses are beautiful and ready for sale but the foundation is faulty. If you dare buy such a house, you are in trouble. The electrification could be done wrongly. One can get electrocuted in the bathroom.
The best bet is, don’t buy cheap property. And try and get from credible organisations. Research the owners of the organization and be sure that they are credible people. Don’t buy property from organisations whose owners are invisible.
Four: Know the documents to watch out for
I want to stress it here that the issue of C of O has been overrated. You see people trying to buy a land and once they are shown the C of O, they assume that such a person is the rightful owner. That is a big mistake. The property is not yours until you have a Deed of Assignment. This is legally what transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer.
Hence, you must make sure that the property you are buying has a Deed of Assignment accompanied with a survey, which is the map and measurement of the land that you are buying. These two documents represent ownership. If you are buying a house, you need a Deed of Conveyance.
Even if you are processing a C of O, you need the Deed and Survey. But if the place you are buying already has a global C of O, what you need is just the Governor’s Consent.
If you are buying a land in an estate, you also need to check the internal estate rules governing every property owner there.
Five: Who are you buying a land from?
I always advise that you buy from an estate developer. The reason for this is that buying a land from the ‘omoniles’ as we call it in the Yoruba land, (that is, the landowners) is chaotic. As estate developers, we have had situations whereby omoniles ended selling land that they already sold to other parties to us. We were forced to buy the property twice. It might be easier for us because we are into commercial real estate. But for an individual who struggled to buy the land, the land might be forfeited. And there is really nothing you can do with the current structure.
You picture the likely trouble and trauma you will face in buying land from omoniles. Some people call them land grabbers. Even if you want to chase after them when troubles comes, who do you chase? These are nameless individuals. Some of them use thugs and can go diabolical. You can easily sue real estate developers but it’s very hard to sue land grabbers. All of them can just disappear to another neighbourhood.
When you buy a land from a real estate developer, you have that group power. It is difficult if not impossible for any land grabber to fight a credible company who has access to legal power and resources to defend that investment. This is one of the biggest advantages of buying from a real estate company.
Six: identifying fake documents
Number one is to get a neutral lawyer who will go as far as verifying all the documents you are given at the appropriate offices. Why I say neutral is that there are some lawyers who will tell you that a property is bad just because they didn’t get a commission on the property deal. Ensure that the lawyer you are getting is also experienced about real estate.
Often times, most lawyers tell you that they know, but they don’t really know anything about real estate.
I have many lawyers that I taught real estate. By the virtue of practice, I end up knowing more than even the lawyers. Seek professionals who have track proven records and with years of experience on land matter.