BUYING LAND IN LAGOS NIGERIA, HOW TO AVOID BEING CHEATED
Lagos is Nigeria’s business and economic capital, as well as the most powerful country in Africa. It is worth noting that Lagos state is the most populous in Nigeria, owing to its economic viability, which attracts millions of Nigerians who migrate there for business and other greener pastures. Lagos real estate is one of the most sought-after assets in Lagos. Obtaining a deed of ownership over land or property in Lagos provides the individual with a competitive advantage, as he or she can become financially stable over time through this goldmine.
It is important to note, however, that land acquisition is a very tricky business, which can be attributed to encumbrances such as title ownership, family squabbles, and other circumstances.
Omo-Onile. The omo-oniles are generally regarded as indigenes or sons of the soil who wish to gain a competitive advantage over those who acquire lands for development in Lagos. They are also known as land grabbers because they seek to deprive innocent people of their hard-earned land and property through violence and other means. The actions of this notoriously dangerous group of people have become a recurring decimal in Lagos land issues, as most people are afraid to invest their money in land that they will eventually lose.
Barrister Matthew Ottah, a legal practitioner, stated in a relevant section of the law titled “Law to Prohibit Forceful Entry and Occupation of Landed Properties, Violent and Fraudulent Conducts in Relation to Landed Properties in Lagos“, that any Omo-Onile or land vendor who disrupts work because the purchaser refused to pay foundation or roofing fees, is liable to a fine.
He emphasized the importance of the government matching the law with actions to prevent Omo-Onile from ignoring these laws and continuing to wreak havoc without facing the consequences of their evil deeds.
INTERVENTION BY THE GOVERNMENT
The Lagos state government in full knowledge of the importance of removing any obstacles to land developers and genuine investors came to the rescue. They enacted the Land Grabbing Prohibition Law in 2016 as a deterrent to the illegal activities of the Omo-Oniles.
Offenders are set to be given 21 years jail term with the passage of this bill into law by the Lagos state government. This noble gesture has withered down the activities of these illegal groups and positively affected the economic development of the state.
When you have an intention of purchasing a land, in any part of the world, it is a given that you don’t run wild; investigations must be made, verification processes must be followed to avoid issues that may result in fraud, delay or multiple disagreements. Applying Caveat Emptor– (Purchaser Beware) must be duly followed in the real sense of the word. Do not just rush in, employ the help and assistance of experts; lawyers, Surveyor, real estate agents etc. It pays to be cautious.
Below are some steps you have to follow to ensure you do not get cheated. The list isn’t conclusive, but it is a start;
- Running a search and other verification process. Running a search is time-consuming, especially if you are unfamiliar with land terminology. Your search should concentrate on areas with significant future development and growth potential. Land in such areas is typically inexpensive and accessible. One must also ensure that the land is free of encumbrances and government acquisition. You must go to the State Ministry of Lands and Survey to conduct a search to determine the legal title owner of the land you intend to purchase. Having an experienced lawyer or real estate agent assist you in this matter will help ensure a successful verification process. It would have been simpler if there had been an online database of available lands for sale. Fortunately, real estate and property development firms have simplified the search and verification process by performing it on behalf of the client and eliminating fraud and complexity.
- Purchasing the land. After the search and verification are completed satisfactorily, and copies of the land’s documents have been confirmed as acceptable, you proceed to the Ministry of Land and Survey Alausa for charting, and once you are satisfied with the results, you make payment. On the other hand, if you buy from a registered real estate company, the process is simplified because all technical details concerning the land, including charting, have already been completed on behalf of the client. All you have to do is choose a plot and fill out the necessary paperwork so that they can process your land title. You then transfer funds to the company’s bank account.
- Title Registration. The Lagos State Ministry of Lands at Alausa is in charge of registering all land titles in the state. The various approved titles that every land owner must ensure he/she has intact are survey plans, registered conveyance, registered deed of assignment, and certificate of occupancy. “I always advise my clients to go for a land that has the best duly registered and approved title,” says Dr Eromosele Anthony Irabor, a real estate consultant with EUC Homes Lagos.
- Keeping the asset safe. After making the necessary payments and obtaining the necessary land title, it is critical to secure the land to avoid encroachment. When asked how to best secure an asset, Mrs. Yvonne, a real estate and property expert based in Lagos, said, “It is very essential to fence your land and start raising the foundation as proof of ownership immediately after making payments. This will help secure your asset and deter potential intruders”. Land grabbers should not be allowed to go about looking for already acquired lands that have not been secured. After the fencing and foundation work is completed, it is best to gradually begin erecting a structure to send a clear message to land grabbers. The first step is to create as many blocks as possible to support the structure from the foundation to the lintel level. It is a phase-by-phase project, which is ideal for those with limited resources. Make an estimate of how much the type of structure you intend to build will cost and begin as soon as possible.
- The cost of purchasing land in Lagos and obtaining title. The cost of land in Lagos is determined by two major factors. The first is the location of the land, and the second is the presence or absence of land title. Mrs. Yvonne, for example, confirmed a six-month-old sale involving a 100-by-60-foot plot of land. That is 600sqm in Ibeju Lekki that sold for N550, 000. She mentioned that the land was inexpensive because it only had a survey plan. She confirmed the sale of plots of land with C of O for between N2.7 million and N3 million three years ago. The same plots of land are now selling for as much as N5.5 million in Ibeju Lekki. There are already lands with registered title documents, making it safer to invest in or purchase outright. Your budget and the location where you want to buy land in Lagos are two important factors to consider. Ibeju Lekki is currently the most viable location in Lagos State for acquiring land. The prices range from N2 million to N30 million, depending on the proximity of the land to the Dangote Refinery, Petrochemical Plant, and International Airport.
WHAT MAKES IBEJU LEKKI A HAVEN FOR INVESTORS?
In comparison to other notable areas such as Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Banana Island, and Lekki Phase one, Ibeju Lekki has all the makings of an investor haven. A plot of land in Ikoyi, for example, was sold for N2 million in the 1970s, but the current rate is as high as N300 million. The wise investors who bought land in Ikoyi at the time are now reaping huge returns on their investments.
In the case of Victoria Island, a plot of land was sold for N5 million in the 1980s, but today, the same dimension of land is sold for as much as N150 million. In the 1990s, Lekki Phase One was seen as a potential location for investors and few investors risked their hard-earned money on acquiring land in the fast-growing Lekki phase one. A plot of land was sold for N2 million at the time, but today the same plot of land can fetch N100 million or more.
When these locations did not attract any international projects at the time, astute investors took advantage. Their astute decision soon paid off, as they profited more than 500% on their initial investment after only a few years.
Other legal issues include the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).
One of the benefits of purchasing land in Ibeju Lekki is the ability to purchase from reputable Real Estate companies such as EUC Homes, which has acquired massive plots of land within the Ibeju Lekki zone. What’s more, once payments are made, the C of O documents, as well as the deed of ownership and other relevant documents, are issued to the purchaser.
It is worth noting that mortgage refinancing is also available for those who qualify, and this option is very appealing and less burdensome for those who cannot make large payments. Most lands in Lagos state are 120 by 60 feet in size. The average plot of land costs N18 million or more, depending on its proximity to the international business hubs sprouting up all over Ibeju Lekki.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW THAT YOU HAVE GOOD AND VIABLE LAND?
It is important to note that land acquisition is based on future development potential and proximity to areas where basic infrastructure can be easily deployed. Based on these criteria, any serious investor should look for land in the following three areas:
- Ibeju Lekki
- The Badagry Express
These three locations are hot spots to watch out for, but I would recommend Ibeju Lekki for strategic reasons. As of today, the number of international projects already scheduled to begin in that zone makes it feasible for investors to acquire. These projects are as follows:
- Dangote Refining Company
- Free Trade Zone of Lekki
- Airport Lekki Epe International
- Dangote’s personal jetty
- The seaport of Lekki
- University of Pan Africa
Finally, I recommend using a reputable property/real estate company to ease or lower the risk level. This will also provide the individual with various refinancing options and ensure that all documents are genuine and unencumbered.