Buying a Property in Nigeria
Process of Buying a House in Nigeria.
Acquiring a property in Nigeria is quite straightforward. A single lawyer can be involved, a notary, who is responsible for ensuring that the purchase contract is accurate and conforms to the law, and who registers the transaction with the Bureau of land registry/Ministry of Land among others.
We’ll recommend you use a lawyer or a very reputable Estate Agent (such as ediaro Property, where we also have accredited Lawyers). A lawyer may cost you money but will save you from future pains, some estate agent like to play the role of lawyers (doing the search on properties at the Ministry of Land) but don’t let them do it. Lawyers also sell properties but the estate agents may have more contacts.
Whatever you do, be very smart and vigilant so as not to fall into the wrong hands. If you wish to buy a property in Nigeria, it’s quiet easy if you follow the steps below. Though this is not a sure insurance that things cannot go wrong, but at least, it can minimize the risk.
- Identify what the objectives of the property you’re looking for. This will determine the location, type and budget of the property
- Search for the property of your choice at www.properties.ediaro.com, check out the picture, features and location map and contact the Owner, Company or Agent directly – very simple and straightforward. Alternatively, Use or Lawyer or an Estate Agent (deal only with Estate agents who are registered members of NIESV – Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers or developers who are registered with Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria).
- Procure the services of a good lawyer with experience in Land and property transactions.
- Avoid Cash settlements – stick with Bank drafts and cheques. This can be tracked more easily and the process can be halted before the receiver is even credited if anything happens. In many cases, it’s not advisable to buy properties from friends/relatives. You can rent through them but not buy. If you don’t have full money at once, you don’t have to pay it all at once; you can pick a good mortgage from a commercial bank. The stress is not as much as you think. Just get all the relevant papers and pick the property.
- There is no easy way to determine the real landowners hence buy only through reputable developers/agents.
A SAMPLE LAND TRANSACTION
Walk into any of the ediaro Properties office, ask for an agent. Tell him/her you wish to buy a land at Asokoro, Abuja (location); for instance and this is your budget. He would follow different procedures for searching such as searching our robust properties platform (www.properties.ediaro.com) or call other agents around if there’s non in that location is listed online.
He will search for one and get back to you. You’ll go on the site with him and see it. If you like it, you would negotiate and tell him you’ll get back to him. Get a good property lawyer. He’ll conduct a search at the lands registry to see if the land is an acquired land by government, land under dispute or free land. Once he ascertains that, he’ll proceed to check the land site and hold talks with the families around the area to ascertain true ownership. He’ll give you a feedback on his findings and either recommend the land for you to buy or not. The ball is then in your court – if you go ahead to buy it or not.
You’ll pay the ediaro Properties agent with a bank draft in the company’s name (ediaro Properties is a member of Fladio International Nigeria Limited). Receive receipts and some other papers that show you’ve bought a land through them. The real ordeal is when you have to take this land to the government and process your Certificate of Occupancy and other title deeds. It takes from 6 months to forever to do this. Your lawyer will either do this for you at a cost or you do it yourself. If your lawyer is to do it, you’ll have to give him “PR” money to enable the transaction move along smoothly. Eventually you’ll get the papers after a year or less and the property is officially yours.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
- Where are you going to buy in Nigeria?
Buying a property in Nigeria is a dream that sometimes can turn into a nightmare. When purchasing a property do not allow your heart to rule your head unless there is someone there to hold your hand that you can trust.
A stunning view could be a luxury that you may never enjoy if the property from where you see it is illegal or not fit for purpose. If you want, we at ediaro Properties (contact us on +234 (0)80.606.440.44 or +234 (0)80.906.440.44) will carry out research, in conjunction with your Nigerian lawyer, the necessary legal and fiscal checks to ensure that what you are buying is exactly what it is.
Before choosing a property you should first explore the type of lifestyle you want to enjoy. Do you want a holiday home, a permanent family home or a retirement home? The glorious views from a stunning villa on a remote hilltop are not worth it if you need to be close to work, schools and shops. That pretty town house in the centre of that picture in a village where they only speak Yoruba might not worth the bargain if you are not willing or capable of embracing the Yoruba culture.
The location and the amenities it has to offer is important but also important is the type of property you want to buy. Do you want an apartment, a town house or a villa? Do you want a private property or one that is located on a community. Then all you have to do is fit it all into your budget. There are numerous variables that affect your choice of property and we can help put them into perspective.
- What is it going to cost?
Apart from the price of the property there are a number of fees and taxes associated with the processs of purchasing a property in Nigeria. Our fees are paid for by the vendor. In Nigeria all property transactions must be legally registered and notarised. The fees and taxes associated with this process amount to approximately 10% of the sale price and are paid by the buyer.
It is highly recommended that you engage the services of a Nigerian lawyer and we can recommend several ediaro Properties accredited lawyers that you can trust to advise and assist you through the legal process. Lawyers fees are paid for by the buyer.
We can also assist you if you are seeking a mortgage but we are not mortgage brokers. Mortgage providers will conduct a survey of the property but for peace of mind it is recommended that you engage a qualified surveyor to conduct a comprehensive structural survey on your behalf.
- What happens after the deal is signed, sealed and dusted?
We can also advise you on your obligations regarding non-resident or resident taxes, local taxes, community charges and the utility bills you will have to pay throughout the year. We can recommend a fiscal representative to look after your fiscal and tax affairs.
If you are a non-resident property owner our property management and lettings subsidiaries can look after your property and generate income by letting your property if you are not planning to live in the house or even travelled abroad.
Which local legislation do I need to know about Property Owning in Nigeria?
Owners can obtain leases from the State for a maximum of 99 years for the use of land.
The Land Use Act of 1978 converted all land to State Land. The Governor of the State (F.C.T. Minister in the case of Abuja) is responsible for the management of this land on behalf of the people. Therefore, land cannot be owned privately. The Governor’s consent is needed for the assignment of title to use, occupy, and improve property with a statutory certificate. This certificate does not include rights to sell, give, or sub-let, which requires further consent from the State Governor.
A peculiarity about purchase of property in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos, is the Consent Fee. The logic is that the state government is the owner of land and therefore any change in ownership or assignment, in case of a lease, should have the consent of the Governor.
There is also a Capital Gain Tax levied at 10% of the difference between the sale price and the original acquisition tax. This is assessed by the Ministry of Finance.
Technically, before purchasing, it is important to make sure that consent from the Governor is obtained for the sale. No land can be “sold” without this consent. But because of the delay in the timing of Governor’s consent at times, people do conduct the transaction with irrevocable power of attorney from the seller and continue with the Governor’s consent, when the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) would be out and legally the property becomes the buyer’s property.
Sale of real estate, however, does not involve actual selling and purchasing. There is only the transfer of rights from one person to another. This transaction is usually called an ‘assignment’. The seller assigns the right to use and occupy the land to the buyer. After the transaction, the buyer applies for a new (statutory) certificate under his name. In this case, the seller acts as the assigner, and the buyer is the assignee.
The buyer/assignee’s lawyer checks the title and other documents presented by the seller/assigner before continuing with the transaction. It is better to be safe, since there are several restrictions and conditions that come with a title, and the buyer has to make sure of what he/she is getting. There are even instances where the assigner is selling land that he/she does not own.
Purchasing property in Nigeria is not without risks – expropriation and others. Two laws make land ownership uncertain in Nigeria. Although these laws have their counterpart in most countries, it is the implementation that really matters. The Petroleum Act of 1969 and Land Use Act of 1978 allow the government to take over land under the state’s right to eminent domain. The compensation scheme covers only the “unexhausted improvements” to the land but not the land itself. The value is also fixed to a government rate which was set in the year the law was created. These factors combined with corruption and years of autocratic rule, mean that uncompensated expropriation of property is common.
Nevertheless, taking money out of the country should not be a worry for foreigners. According to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act No. 16 of 1995, foreign investors are guaranteed unconditional transferability of their dividends, profits and loan repayments.
If you wish to find out more about property buying or renting, getting a reputable estate agent, lawyer etc, contact ediaro Properties, click here to contact us or call +234 (0)80.606.440.44 or +234 (0)80.906.440.44 we’ll give you professional advice and consultancy at a fee.