THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY THAT LAND/PROPERTY IN AWKA
What you must know before, during and after purchase of land, house or realestate in Awka:
For many, buying a piece of land or real estate property in Awka is all about getting a real estate vendor who is willing to sell and meeting the price for the property. Many people fall into the mistake of dealing with vendors of properties in trust, assuming that the fact that they have known one another for donkey years or the fact that an agent has assured them of good title is sufficient to avoid future troubles with respect to the land or real property.
It is of paramount importance to take certain steps prior to the purchase of land, during the course of purchase and even after the purchase has been made for the sake of securing ones interest in the said property. A willing purchase as a matter of importance must investigate the title of the vendor to the said land and in some cases the track record of such vendor in order to forestall any future legal issues.
At this stage parties (vendor (or agent) and purchaser) meet and discuss on the property: price, mode of payment, nature of vendor’s title etc. After parties have agreed on the purchase price a Contract of Sale Agreement is drawn up pending when the Purchaser would carry out investigation to deduce the nature of the Vendor’s title to ascertain that the property truly belongs to the Vendor and is free of any encumbrance.
At the point where the contract is exchanged the vendor is deemed to hold the land in trust for the purchaser till he pays, and all conditions therein fulfilled. The essence is to deduce a good root of title from the vendor. Until the execution of the contract of sale there is no obligation on the vendor to establish that he is the owner of the title which he intends to convey, but once the contract has been exchanged, he is under duty to do so. The Contract of Sale Agreement may include terms as agreed by parties. It is not unusual for parties to agree to a deposit on the total value of the property at this point pending the result of the investigation of title by the purchaser.
INVESTIGATION OF TITLE STAGE
After the execution of the contract, the purchaser would collect title documents from the vendor. These documents should be sufficient in themselves without any extrinsic evidence to establish the title to the land. Such documents include Certificate of Occupancy, Deed of Assignment/Conveyance and Survey Plan, Registered Title, Court Vesting Order etc.
Once the relevant documents (usually copies) have been obtained from the vendor, the Purchaser’s solicitors proceed to carry out an investigation to confirm the vendor’s title and to ascertain that there are no defects in the said title to the property. Investigation involves several searches at various registries where records of properties and encumbrances are kept. Searches can be conducted in the following ways –
• Search at the Lands Registry – The Land Instrument Registration Law of each State establishes a land registry for the State, where documents relating to land within the territory are kept, and it varies from one State to another.
• Search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) – This is necessary where the vendor or past owner is a company incorporated under Companies and Allied Matters Act. Apart from the searches at the land registry, there should be a further search at the CAC to reveal whether or not there is an encumbrance or any charge whatsoever on the property.
Companies are required to file annual returns yearly with the CAC which is always accompanied with a company’s financial statement; the financial statement will reveal the company’s assets (where there are any) as well as any charges or encumbrance on same.
• Search at Probate registry – This is a search conducted to reveal whether or not probate has been granted on any estate and to ascertain the personal representatives or executors of a testator in cases of properties belonging to the estate of a deceased. Without a grant of Probate and/or letters of administration, the vendors do not possess the requisite authority to sell the property of a deceased person.
• Traditional evidence – This is done by investigating or verifying from the principal members of a family or from the community and heads of the community where the property is subject to family or community ownership. It is crucial to verify that all relevant consents have been obtained and that the title is neither void nor voidable.
• Court judgments – This is a search conducted to see if the land is subject to any court litigation, and if any, the outcome of the dispute; or whether the vendor is a personal representative or beneficiary in a probate dispute which entitles him to convey the property.
• Physical inspection – This is a personal visit to the property in question in order to find out if there is any issue with the property, or to ascertain the actual size of the land and whether it conforms to the dimensions on the survey plan at the La