Before you agree to buy a land, you as a prospective buyer is advised to diligently search and investigate the state of the land and title (ownership) of such land. For a detail and comprehensive due diligence on a land, prospective buyers should consult and engage a lawyer. Before agreeing to any contract with the landowner, the buyer is expected to do preliminary inquiries to confirm the land title, status and presentations of the seller.

A land seller is bound by the law to disclose to a buyer any not physically noticeable defects on the land such as non-arrears of ground rent, conditions and term of any head-lease, lack of a certificate of occupancy etc. A seller is not bound by law to disclose to a buyer any defect on a land that can be physically noticed on an inspection. Hence the buyer must visit the land in question, ask questions from neighbours, do a search at relevant places during his preliminary/ pre-contract inquiries to enable him to decide whether to sign a contract of sale.

Investigate Before Buying a Land in Nigeria

After your inquiry, if the buyer is willing to buy the land, the seller may ask for a deposit. The deposit may be 10% or more depending on both parties’ agreement. Deposit is money paid by the buyer to a seller as a security and evidence of his intention, seriousness and commitment to complete and complete the contract. The deposit will be paid before entering into a contract to sale while money paid after entering into a contract is a part payment of an agreed price ensuing from the subsisting contract.

Though payment of the deposit is not mandatory it is advised that vendor request for such for their own safety and benefit. Aside deposit a good contract for sale agreement must contain; agreement for payment of the price, the capacity of the seller to sell the land in question, the right of the seller to convey the good right to the buyer, the passage of quiet enjoyment and good title to buyer and completion date of the contract.

If a prospective buyer is willing to carry out investigation on a landed property status before making further payment, below are institutions and places where diligent search and investigation should be carried out before buying any land

Land Registry: Every state in Nigeria has a land registry where details of land and their owners a kept. The registry is often under the Ministry of Land.
Probate Registry: The probate registry keeps records of “Wills” and other testamentary documents. The various High Courts of all States have Probate Registries. A visit at such registry is necessary where there is an issue of death and wills as to prove of titles.

The Corporate Affairs Commission: The Corporate Affairs Commission is an establishment of a law that registers and regulates companies, business names and incorporated trustees. The commission keeps records of land transactions involving companies. A search in the commission will reveal whether a company has a land and whether its director’s consent to sell same.
Courts: The Courts keep records of cases before them. Hence, a diligent search at a court’s registry would reveal if a land is in dispute. It will further reveal any court order binding any land.

Traditional Rulers/Family Members: Ownership is a vital issue to be determined before buying a land. Hence, the buyer should seek information about the land from the traditional ruler/ village head of the location of the land. Such persons occupy positions that can equip them with immeasurable information. A visit, discussion and inquiry from the family members of the owner of proposed land for sale and the owners of adjoining land is equally advised.

A candid observation of the above guide is a safe means of buying a land. It is a sure way of truncating the pranks of fraudsters. Please do wait for me next edition as I teach you; how to have a legal marriage and not just an illegal but church marriage.

Culled from Learn Nigerian Laws | Safest Means of Purchasing Urban Land