Caveats against buying or renting a problematic property

Prevention they say is better than cure. In the light of this, this essay is an attempt to tack together, some salient and not so salient points to note and where possible to avoid while shopping for real estate. It takes an old hand to swiftly decipher loopholes or issues that may rear their ugly head after a prospective buyer of a property may have taken the plunge.

  1. You may have heard this old maxim, it still holds true – if a deal looks too good to be true, it damn is! Imagine you been asked to pay five hundred thousand naira for a plot of land that you know is worth at least two million naira even when the seller claims s/he has some financial challenge challenges. probe further, there may be more than meets the eye.
  2. Installment payment plans and promos – This concept is becoming popular by the day in Nigeria. Prospective property buyers are promised they are payable in installments over some specified number of years. In reality, this arrangement seldom pans out as envisaged. There is always a tendency that the goal post may be shifted in the middle of the match. For one, we lack institutional frameworks or checks and balances that will guard against such sharp practices. Until proper checks and balances, and an avantgarde mortgage regime, regulation is in place across the country, some experts are of the view that it is advisable for one to pay for a property at a go and obtain the relevant receipts, documents immediately to forestall cock and bull stories. An Igbo adage goes thus: ‘it is not what people say while going to the farm that they say while returning’. For instance, there could be gobbledygook clauses in the terms of sale that the prospective buyer may have overlooked but which will come haunting him later. In other cases, You risk losing your down payment if another person dangles a higher bid to the seller. If you have no choice or the prospects of installment payment plans appear attractive to you, please, by all means, look before you leap.
  3. Awaiting government gazette/government acquisition lands – Some of the trick fraudulent land dealers deploy in scamming prospective property buyers in Nigeria is by narrating how the said property is still “awaiting government gazette”. Please take care to ascertain this claim.
  4. Buying an uncompleted building or a property under legal contention: As I said earlier, try to find out why the seller is poised to dispose of the property. Is it that he needs money to invest in his business or to cater to some domestic issues? If the property belongs to a family i.e more than one person, are they all in agreement that the property be sold? Should the seller bandy a court order to you as proof of ownership of the property, ensure there is no appellate judgment that invalidates that of the lower court.


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