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How to conduct proper due diligence for your property in Nigeria

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Everything you need to know is included in our Nigeria Property Pack

Embarking on the path of buying a property in Nigeria is a substantial and potentially life-changing decision that requires thoughtful consideration.

Whether you are on the lookout for a new home, an investment opportunity, or a peaceful vacation spot, venturing into the world of Nigerian real estate can be an exciting endeavor.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to approach this process with caution and meticulous attention. Conducting thorough due diligence is a fundamental step in the property acquisition journey that should never be underestimated.

In this article, we will delve into the importance of due diligence when purchasing a property in Nigeria. We will highlight the critical factors and considerations that every prospective buyer should be well-versed in. From understanding legal regulations to conducting comprehensive property inspections, our aim is to provide you with invaluable insights to ensure that your real estate investment in Nigeria is not only thrilling but also secure.

Finally, please know that the full due diligence cheklist is included in our property pack for Nigeria.

What is a due diligence when you buy a property in Nigeria?

In the context of a residential real estate transaction in Nigeria, due diligence is a crucial step for the buyer.

It's essentially a process of investigation and verification to ensure that the property you're planning to buy is legally sound and a good investment.

Think of it as doing your homework before making a big purchase.

The reason due diligence is important is that it helps uncover any legal, financial, or physical issues with the property.

In Nigeria, where land and property disputes can be common, this process can save you from future headaches.

It's not legally mandatory, but skipping it is risky.

If you don't conduct due diligence, you might end up buying a property with legal encumbrances, like disputes over ownership, unpaid taxes, or structural problems that could cost a fortune to fix.

Usually, the buyer takes responsibility for due diligence, although sometimes a real estate agent or a legal advisor can assist.

It's important to start this process as soon as you're seriously considering a property.

The duration of due diligence can vary.

In Nigeria, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the property's complexity and the speed of obtaining necessary documents and reports.

And ... yes, due diligence does cost money.

You might need to pay for services like property valuation, legal advice, and obtaining necessary certificates or reports. However, these costs are generally a wise investment compared to the potential risks of not thoroughly vetting a property.

Get the full checklist for your due diligence in Nigeria

Don't repeat the same mistakes others have made before you. Make sure everything is in order before signing your sales contract.

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What to check during a due diligence in Nigeria?

We'll give here a very brief overview of the elements you have to check when you conduct a due diligence in Nigeria ; if you want a full checklist, please check the "Due Diligence" document in our property pack for Nigeria.

In Nigeria, understanding the due diligence process for residential real estate is key to a successful transaction.

When you're buying a property, verifying the property title is the first crucial step. This involves checking the land registry, where official records of land ownership are kept.

You'll want to ensure that the seller is the legitimate owner and that the title is free from any encumbrances or disputes.

Local regulations are another vital aspect.

In Nigeria, each state has its property laws. You'll need to be aware of these laws, especially concerning land use and zoning regulations. They dictate what the land can be used for and any building restrictions that might apply.

Financial due diligence is about understanding all the costs involved.

Apart from the purchase price, consider taxes, registration fees, and any ongoing levies or charges associated with the property.

It's also wise to verify that all previous taxes and charges on the property have been settled.

Environmental assessments aren't always mandatory in Nigeria, but they're recommended, especially if the property is in an area known for environmental issues. This assessment checks for soil contamination, flooding risks, and other environmental hazards.

Building inspections, while not always mandatory, are crucial. They help you identify any structural issues or necessary repairs.

In Nigeria, it's advisable to hire a professional to inspect the property for any defects or compliance issues with local building codes.

Verifying access to utilities is about ensuring that the property has reliable connections to water, electricity, sewage, and internet services. You can do this by checking with local utility providers or asking for recent utility bills.

Researching the neighborhood and community gives you an insight into the area's lifestyle, safety, and amenities.

Talk to locals, visit community centers, and observe the general environment and facilities. This will help you gauge if the neighborhood aligns with your lifestyle needs.

Identifying easements or rights of way is about understanding if there are any legal rights that allow others to use or access part of the property. You can find this information in the property's title documents or by consulting a local land surveyor.

To get information about future development plans, check with the local planning authority. They can provide insights into any upcoming projects that might affect the property's value or your enjoyment of it.

Lastly, checking for historical listings or disputes involves looking into the property's past. This can be done through a search at the local land registry or court records to see if there have been any past legal disputes involving the property.

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Everything you need to know is included in our Nigeria Property Pack

What's the process and who are the professionals involved in a property due diligence in Nigeria?

Understanding the due diligence process in Nigeria's residential real estate market involves knowing the right professionals to engage and the roles they play.

Primarily, you'll need a lawyer and a surveyor. Lawyers in Nigeria are essential for navigating the legal aspects of real estate transactions. They handle contract reviews, ensure the property's title is clear, and help with the transfer of ownership. Their services are regulated by the Nigerian Bar Association, ensuring adherence to professional standards.

Surveyors play a critical role too. They assess the physical aspects of the property, like boundaries and land measurements. They're crucial for verifying that the property matches its description and for identifying any potential land disputes.

The regulation of surveyors falls under the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors, which maintains standards for practice.

If you're a foreigner, language and communication barriers can add complexity to the due diligence process.

Nigeria has a diverse linguistic landscape, but English is the official language, particularly in business and legal matters. Nonetheless, local dialects or nuances may still pose challenges.

It's advisable to work with local professionals who can navigate these nuances effectively.

Regarding contract amendments, once a real estate contract is signed in Nigeria, making changes can be tricky.

Both buyer and seller must agree to any amendments, and these changes should be in writing. Your lawyer can guide you through this process to ensure that any modifications are legally binding and reflect your interests.

The timeframe for completing paperwork and approvals can vary widely.

After signing the contract, it typically takes a few weeks to a few months to complete all necessary steps. This period includes obtaining necessary approvals, completing payments, and registering the property.

Delays can occur due to bureaucratic processes or issues arising during due diligence.

A mistake in your due diligence could cost you thousands of dollars

Make sure you don't overlook critical checks when assessing the condition of your prospective property purchase. Avoid legal complications. Stay prepared, get our comprehensive guide.

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What are the common pitfalls happening during a property due diligence in Nigeria?

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Nigeria.

Navigating the due diligence process in Nigeria's residential real estate market has its unique challenges and risks, particularly for buyers and even more so for foreigners.

One unique pitfall in Nigeria is the complexity of land ownership laws, which vary significantly across different states.

For instance, in Lagos State, the Land Use Act plays a critical role in property transactions, a specificity not commonly found in many other countries. This Act stipulates that all land is held in trust by the state government, which complicates the process of acquiring a land title.

Foreign buyers often face the risk of navigating these complex legal frameworks without adequate local knowledge. There have been instances where foreigners have been misled due to a lack of understanding of local land laws and ended up purchasing land with disputed titles or encumbrances.

Cultural and historical considerations also play a role.

In some Nigerian communities, land is traditionally owned collectively, and the consent of local leaders or families may be required to finalize a transaction. This communal approach to land ownership can be quite different from the individualistic approach seen in many Western countries.

Regarding contract-related pitfalls, a common issue is the lack of clarity or comprehensive detail in property agreements.

Sometimes, contracts don't adequately cover aspects like property boundaries, rights of way, or specific terms of the sale. This can lead to misunderstandings or disputes after the transaction.

To mitigate these risks, buyers should engage local professionals like lawyers and surveyors who understand the intricacies of Nigerian real estate laws and customs.

Thoroughly reviewing and understanding property contracts, and ensuring they are comprehensive and clear, is also vital.

In terms of property insurance, while not mandatory, it's highly recommended.

Insurance against fire, theft, and natural disasters is advisable, given the varying climate and environmental conditions in Nigeria.

In case of a dispute, legal avenues for resolution include litigation in the Nigerian courts or, alternatively, arbitration for a less adversarial approach.

The choice depends on the nature of the dispute and the provisions in the property contract. The Nigerian legal system, based on the English common law system, provides a framework for resolving such disputes.

The authorities responsible for settling real estate disputes are the State High Courts, known locally by their state names (e.g., Lagos State High Court). These courts have jurisdiction over land and property matters within their respective states.

Get the full checklist for your due diligence in Nigeria

Don't repeat the same mistakes others have made before you. Make sure everything is in order before signing your sales contract.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.