Land fraud is a big issue in Nigeria and the reason is simple –many Nigerians like you are not armed with the right information to detect scam agents who pose as legitimate agents and landowners to defraud them of their hard earned money.
In the past, all that a scam agent needed to defraud unsuspecting buyers like you was to pose as a wealthy man also known as a ‘big man’ and get his hands on some fake documents. But today however, a lot has changed and so has scam agents. Scam agents have become more creative and innovative in their criminal acts.
To cut down the chances of falling prey to these unscrupulous individuals, we will take you through top five tips that will safeguard you from losing your money to scam agents and double-dealing homeowners.
- Don’t be in a Rush: One of the most successful tactics that enables land fraud in Nigeria is the application of unnecessary pressure on buyers by scam agents. Rushing you is designed to place you under the mindset that the offer is for a very limited time and that if you don’t pounce in good time, you might lose out on the deal. This is not true most times. A good deal is not worth rushing. No matter how mouth-watering a deal is, if the agent or property owner does not give you ample time to evaluate your choices and make decision, it’s not worth it. As long as you have not paid for a land that a fraudulent agent is trying to sell to you, the scam is not successful so you should always hold on to your money and buy yourself as much time as you need to verify the owner’s numerous claims. If the owner tries to rush you, counter this with an explanation of how you carry out due diligence before you make payment. Don’t be afraid to let the property owner or agent know that you do not like being pressured into making important decisions.
- Never Make Payment for a Land You Have Not Inspected: A physical inspection of a land you are interested in is incredibly important. Never put yourself in a situation where you have to pay for a land that you have not created time to inspect. Some people might take such risk and be lucky enough to get away with it but this attitude increases your risk of getting scammed greatly. Before you pay for any land at all, you must not just see the land physically but you must carry out an inspection of the property. An inspection lets you know how much value you are getting for your money. In a situation where you are outside the country and you want to inspect a land, send someone whose judgment you fully trust, to carry out an inspection on your behalf.
- Avoid Land Fraud by Asking for the Survey Plan: There are quite a number of documents that a seller could use to prove to you that the land belongs to him/her. One of such documents is the survey plan. Ask for the survey plan before you buy the land. This document tells you that the government is aware of the land in question. A genuine seller should not hesitate to show this to you. When the survey plan is shown to you, check if the name on the survey plan is the same as the name of the seller. If the name is different, then the seller does not have the right to sell the land. Also, check the coordinates on the survey plan to be sure that they are the same as the coordinates on the beacon on the land you’re planning to buy. In a situation where the seller cannot show you the survey plan, what this translates is that the land has probably never been surveyed. It could also mean that the land belongs to someone else. If you’re having problems getting the seller to show you the survey plan, it’s not a good sign. Don’t hesitate to walk away except in the case where the land has not been surveyed at all.
- Very Cheap Land Should Raise Flags: Buying land is not cheap. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Land in Nigeria can be affordable but not overly cheap and if a seller tries to sell a land to you at a price that is ridiculously cheap, tread with caution. If a land is listed at an excessively cheap price, it is probably fraudulent! One of the factors that determine how much a land sells for is its location. This explains why a plot of land in Banana Island is more expensive than the same land space in Ikorodu in Lagos. The only exception to cheap land is when the owner is someone you have a personal relationship with.
- Get Help from Real Estate Expert: The safest way to avoid land fraud is to work with a real estate professional. Let an expert guide you with his/her wealth of experience within the Real Estate space. A reliable property expert will ensure you get the best value for your money. Many of the things to look out for before buying land will be covered by a Real Estate expert.
Final Thoughts. In addition to the tips we have shared, to avoid land fraud in Nigeria, when buying land, avoid paying cash. Always ensure your payment can be traced. Don’t pay through a transfer through your mobile App. it might be a smart way of making payment for other things but when buying land, it isn’t a smart thing to do.