In buying land, just like in any business arrangement, documentation is essential. Documentation is the recording of the details of business transactions and the gathering of materials that provide official information or evidence that serves as a record of the transaction. The importance of documentation in real estate cannot be overstressed. It is important to note that the only way to be certain of the legality of a transaction is through documentation. Before any real estate transaction can be said to be successfully concluded, all documents must be up-to-date and duly signed by all concerned parties. Here are some documents that one must have when closing a real estate deal.
1. Certificate of Occupancy: The Certificate of Occupancy is duly stamped by the Commissioner for Stamp Duties and registered at the registry. The duly executed and registered Certificate of Occupancy can be picked up from the Land Use Allocation Committee collection office. Certificate of Occupancy also known as C of o is seen as the most important document to a landowner or property buyer in Nigeria because it is a document issued by state governments in Nigeria to landowners and property buyers as legitimate proof of ownership. This document also specifies the purpose of the land. Only the government has the power to issue the Certificate of Occupancy, under the Land Use Act of 1978, all lands in the state are vested in the Governor of the State.
2. Land receipts: A receipt is proof that a transaction took place. It usually contains the name, description, and price of the item purchased. A land receipt is very important because it is evidence that that particular land was purchased and at a certain price. Always pay attention to every detail on the receipt to avoid a bad transaction
3. Deed of assignment: A deed of assignment is an agreement between two parties, the Seller of a Land or Property and a Buyer of that Land or property. It is a document that shows evidence that the Seller has transferred all his rights, his title, his interest, and ownership of that land to the buyer. In this document, the current titleholder who is also called the assignor states clearly that he or she assigns his ownership in that land to the assignee that is, the new titleholder. This is usually done in writing, signed, sealed, and delivered by the concerned parties. This deed is a very important document in any real estate transaction because it contains a lot of important details. These details may include the names and addresses of the parties, a detailed description of the property being conveyed, the origin of the property, the date of the transaction, covenants, and representations of the assignor.
4.Survey plan: A Survey Plan is the primary document you receive from your Land Surveyor after he has completed the survey of your land. It is a very important document, and it is required for almost all land transactions. You need it for deed preparation, confirmation of record copy submission, land information certificate processing, title processing, transfer of title, obtaining of loan from bank, mortgage processing e.t.c. During a land survey, the surveyor measures the boundary of a parcel of land and gets an accurate measurement, and description of the land then includes these details in the survey plan. Only surveyors regulated by the office of the surveyor-general of the state where the land is purchased are allowed to handle survey issues, especially in Lagos.
5. Land Certificate: A land certificate refers to a document issued to the owner of registered land as a proof of ownership with no mortgage on it. Before the promulgation of the Land Use Act of 1978, Land Certificate was usually issued to owners of landed properties but now, it is issued by a government’s land registry for registered freehold or leasehold lands in Nigeria. The certificate contains a description of the property with details of the boundaries, name, and address of the owner and the covenants affecting it.
6.Purchase agreement: A purchase agreement in real estate is a document that shows the purchase price and other conditions associated with the transfer of title. Real estate purchase contracts contain important and specific information, including the price, future mortgage provisions, initial deposit, and many other terms that sum up the conditions of the transfer of title or sale.
7. Addenda or amendment: Addenda is the plural form of Addendum which means to be added. It is an addition to an initial agreement. It is much easier to use an addendum than rewriting the whole contract. Ideally, an addendum is in the form of a separate signed agreement that is attached to the original contract. Without signatures of all affected parties included, an addendum is invalid because anybody can just draft any document and add to the contract so, signatures validate an addendum.
Generally, it is very important to have these documents before closing any real estate deal. In areas of doubts and uncertainty, consult a real agent or a property lawyer. It is also very recommendable to deal with reputable real estate agencies to avoid bad deals.