Buying a land is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make during your lifetime. Nigerians traditionally attach much importance to owning your house, and buying a land is the first step towards building a house. More so, land holds much attraction as a medium to long-term investment.
Nonetheless, many Nigerians are very fearful about buying lands because of the tons of stories that abound about how scammers usually dupe land buyers. This piece seeks to provide actionable insights that will reduce your risk of falling prey to scammers when buying land in Nigeria.
1. Don’t Pay in Cash, Pay the Money into a Bank Account
If you want to buy a land, pay directly into a bank account bearing the name of the seller. A mobile money transfer or bank transfer is not even smart. Take the money to his bank, deposit it in his account and keep your copy of the teller. When filling in the teller (write payment for Land) conspicuously, so that the seller doesn’t come out to say that the payment was for a loan he gave sometimes ago.
Cash is king, he who holds the cash has the power, and once you’ve parted with your money you have parted with that power. Hence, when buying a land you should avoid paying cash directly to the seller. When you pay for a land in cash, there is no paper trail to corroborate the payment. Thus, a dishonest seller can deny collecting money from you and he can dispute the amount paid.
2. Buy the Land through a Registered Real Estate Agent
Many people shy away from buying land through registered real estate agents probably because of the commissions that the agency will charge. However, nothing can be riskier in a land purchase than buying a land without the assistance of a REGISTERED real estate agent. A real estate agent will conduct due diligence on the land to ensure that the seller has the right to sell the land. The real estate agent will verify the valuation of the land in relation to the neighborhood to ensure that you are not overpaying.
3. Avoid Making Installment Payments
Most people are not able to raise funds to purchase a land from a single source; hence, they usually pay for land in installments. This is a good way to spread the cost of the land over time but a fast way to lose your money. The seller will keep the documents of the land until you have completed the payment of the land; hence, there’s no exchange of ownership when you pay in installments until the last payment is made.
If the seller dies before you complete the payment, how will you get the land or obtain your deposits from his family members? A scammer can also increase the selling price of the land and you’ll be forced to raise the extra money since your deposit is already with him.
Instead of paying installments, open a new bank account and start depositing the money there. Don’t collect the ATM card or withdrawal booklet of that account until the money is enough for the purchase. If the land looks like time-sensitive good deal, tell the seller that you’ll commit with 1% of the selling price and that if you don’t come to complete the deal by a given date, you’ll forego your 1% deposit.
4. Lands without Survey Plans are Highly Risky
The survey plan might actually be the biggest proof that a seller has the right to sell the land to you. Before you buy the land ask for the survey plan, the survey plan at least tells you that the government is aware of the existence of the land. Make sure that the name on the survey plan is the same as the name of the seller.
You should also check if the coordinates on the survey are the same as the coordinates on the beacon on the land. If the seller can’t provide you with the survey, it might be that the land has never been surveyed or that another person owns the land. Whichever way, it might be smarter to let the deal pass.
5. Don’t Pay for a Land until You’ve Examined it Physically
I find it hard to understand how you’ll be comfortable sending money to buy a land you’ve not seen physically but some people do it. Before you buy a land, you must see the land physically it will ensure that you are getting value for your money. You’ll know the topography of the land, the kind of neighborhood and the level of development (if any on the land).
If you can’t visit the land yourself, (maybe you are outside the country) you can send someone you trust to go and help you examine the land physically before you commit to a purchase.