The first key step towards purchasing a property in Nigeria is to engage a lawyer or a property broker who can verify the proposed property to be purchased.

9/5/20224 min read


Buying a house in Nigeria connotes various legal requirements and key procedures to be followed.

The first key step towards purchasing a property in Nigeria is to engage a lawyer or a property broker who can verify the proposed property to be purchased.

Lawyers are very integral and of important use as they ensure that one does not run into legal troubles with property title after purchase.

Also Lawyers have cognizance of relevant Nigerian laws governing purchase of property, transferring etc.

A lawyer is statutorily permitted to prepare legal documents (instruments) for transfer of an interest in any property for a fee.

Below are some of the matters to note before completing a real estate transaction: –


This is very vital to successful acquisition of property. The valid authority of the seller to carry out the transaction, that is the sale of the property, should be inquired into at the appropriate land registry. There are a number of ways that this may be achieved such as the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Gazette, Proof of Excision, Survey Plan and Receipt of Purchase by the Vendor

C of O

This is the most important document in a real estate transaction. It is a land document issued by the state government to land owners and buyers as proof of legitimate ownership. It spells out the purpose of the land, that is, residential, commercial or both. This should be demanded from the buyer for citing and further investigation at the appropriate land registry for confirmation as fake certificates may be provided by deceitful sellers.

The C of O is not usually applicable to all properties. It is usually issued to persons who have owned a property in Nigeria before the enactment of the Land Use Act 1978 or to people who are getting direct property allocation from any government.

Probate & Letter of Administration: Where in any property's transaction, the owner is late, the buyer needs to request for the grant of probate or letter of administration in respect of the property. Any documents directly owned by a deceased in respect of his or her property before death becomes invalidated after his or her death to convey title in the said property. The grant of probate or letter of administration will become the document that serves as a legal title in respect of any land or house owned by a deceased person. The document will name Executors or Administrators, as the case may be, who can sign any document transferring the interest in the property called Assent.

The Gazette could be used to trace title, and to check the designation of the particular property


This measures the boundaries and provides accurate measurement and description of the property in question. It displays the exact borders of the land. The survey helps to prevent illegal or unwanted encroachment and trespassing by other property owners.

The document alone is not sufficient to prove title to real estate. The red copy of the document must have been lodged at the Land Registry and further steps taken towards attaining the C of O (if not available) must be shown.

Due diligence must be exercised in confirming all of the above title, and the services of a lawyer and registered surveyor are advisable for same. Investigations must be carried out to ensure the authenticity of the transaction that is about to be executed.

It is advisable to visit and inspect the property before conducting any transaction. In addition, it is important that searches are carried out at the relevant Land Registry. This is to ensure that there is no encumbrance or pending litigation with respect to the land. It also shows whether or not the real estate is the subject of any government acquisition or overriding interest which may prevent the peaceful enjoyment of the property by the new owner. The role of a lawyer cannot be overemphasized here as he will conduct the searches diligently and provide a detailed search report which will guide the decision of the buyer.


Negotiation may begin subsequently. This means that the parties involved have agreed to proceed with the transaction, having being satisfied with any or all of the available information above. Where it involves a private property, an independent valuation may be carried out to guide the buyer on the fair market value of the property. A competent lawyer would also advise on any future liabilities such as stamp duties and other government fees that may be incurred in completing the transaction. This helps the bargaining power of the buyer.

Upon the acceptance of the purchaser’s offer by the vendor, the main documents to be executed and exchanged between the parties; are Contract of Sale and a Deed of Assignment. These documents are prepared by the lawyers of both parties in a way such that their interests are protected adequately.

Once all necessary documents have been signed and exchanged by the purchaser and vendor, the buyer should be in possession of all the original title documents and transfer documents. Payment would also have been made at this stage thereby enabling physical possession of the property itself as well.


This is usually the penultimate stage in a real estate purchase. The buyer must ensure that all the necessary documents are filed with the appropriate government authority, to register the buyer as the new owner of the property. A new survey plan would be required and the Governor’s consent must be obtained to complete the process. The grant of the consent facilitates the issuance of a new Certificate of Occupancy, being proof of ownership of the property.

It is relevant to note that by virtue of the Land Use Act, the ownership of all property in a state in Nigeria is vested in the Governor and a right of occupancy is granted for a maximum of 99 years. Finally as stated earlier the need for a lawyer cannot be overemphasized,roles of a lawyer concerning buying property are all-encompassing.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact



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