Buying property in Lagos Nigeria involves various important steps to ensure the process is completed and good title has been passed from the sellers to the buyers. Some of the steps that must be followed must essentially be carried out by legal practitioners because only lawyers can diligently search a property title, draft necessary transfer instruments, and ensure the title has been duly transferred to the new owners.
Some of the key steps and stages involved in buying a property in Lagos Nigeria include the followings:
- Physical Inspection
- Search & Investigation of Property Title
- Preparation of Contract of Sale and Signing
- Preparation of Deed of Assignment
- Registration of Title
These key steps will be briefly discussed below.
- Physical inspection: Once a buyer has gotten a property that he is interested to buy, the next thing to do is to conduct a physical inspection on the property maybe by himself or through a family member or an attorney. Physical inspections is critical in identifying whether there is any obvious defect on the property that may discourage the buyer from buying. It is also relevant in determining whether there is any dispute surrounding the property, which may include warning to a potential buyer. The inspection will also help to ascertain whether the property is vacant for a possession.
- Search and investigation of property title: After a physical inspection has been conducted on a property, the next important step a buyer must take is to search the title of the property or conduct investigation on the ownership in situation where the property does not have any registered title as at the time of selling. A lot of properties in Lagos are without any registered title and many are pending title registration. The fact that a property is lacking a registered title does not imply it is automatically bad for purchase, this is when it is required that other investigations be conducted into the root title of the property to determine whether the vendor has a right to put such a property for sale or can deliver the possession of the property.
- Prepare and sign the contract of sale: Once the buyer is satisfied with purchasing the property, the next important step is to prepare a Contract of Sale for signing by both parties. The Contract will stipulate all conditions pertaining to the sale of the property. Contract of Sale is very critical if the purchase price is to be paid on instalments. Because mortgage loans are difficult to get in Nigeria, especially for people in informal sectors, most buyers of properties in Lagos essentially rely on payments by instalments. Contract of sale will prevent a seller from reselling the same property to a higher bidder during the tenor of the contract. It will also include other obligations such as a future assistance of vendors during the registration process. The Contract must be signed during the payment of the whole purchase price or the payment of the first installment in case of a property that is to be purchased in installments. The contract can be obviated in instances where the entire purchase is to be paid at once and all obligations required from the vendor have been completed.
- Preparation of Deed of Assignment: Once a purchaser has fully paid for a property or is ready to pay the full amount for a property in Lagos, the next step is to prepare and sign a deed of assignment between the buyer and seller who will be referred to an Assignor and Assignee respectively in the deed. It is the deed that will permanently transfer the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer subject to the governor’s consent. The transaction is deemed completed at this stage.
- Registration of Title: Upon completion, the new owner has an obligation to register the property with the Lagos State Government and obtain what is called the governor’s consent in accordance with the Land Use Act. This process otherwise known as title perfection includes stamping of the deed, consent, and registration.
TYPES OF PROPERTY TITLES & DOCUMENTS IN LAGOS
There are various title documents in Lagos. Some of these documents are relevant or important when buying a property in Lagos. Some of the property documents in Lagos Nigeria include the followings:
- CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C OF O)
- DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
- DEED OF CONVEYANCE
- DEED OF GIFT
- POWER OF ATTORNEY
- SURVEY PLAN
- CONTRACT OF SALE OF LAND
- GRANT OF PROBATE &
- LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION
- DEED OF ASSENT
It is advisable to seek the advice of a qualified legal practitioner for property transactions in Lagos to ensure that all legal requirements are met.
By Olusola Johnson Jegede, Esq. a Partner at Resolution Law Firm