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Key Questions To Ask When Buying Land

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questions on land

Congratulations on your decision to buy land! It is one of the most significant investments ever, as it always appreciates.

As you understand that lands appreciate in value over time, you must also realize that peace of mind is also central to you buying a piece of land. This can only be achieved if you diligently ask essential questions before purchasing a piece of land.

As a purchaser of land, you want to ensure everything runs smoothly to avoid future problems or legal issues on the piece of land.

There are a lot of reasons for buying vacant land. It may be to build your house, for a business, or as a long-term investment. However, you should ask these critical questions discussed in this article.    

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1. What is your Budget?

A foremost vital question, the budget helps check the purpose for which the land is purchased. For example, if the property is for a business, your budget will be higher than building your own house. 
However, you do not have to spend your entire savings or run into debt purchasing a landed property; you just work with your budget.
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2. How Secure is the Area?

 Security is another vital question to ask before purchasing vacant land. Buying land in an area with unrest or an alarming crime rate may seriously harm you or your family, as you may not get the peace of mind that comes with a peaceful environment. If the area is well secured, you can be sure of your protection and sleep with your two eyes closed —no need for unnecessary panic or fear.
The site’s security can also increase the land’s value over time. Also, if buying land is for business, there must be security for people’s investments. The security of a business is paramount for investor

3. Where is the Land Located?

Location is one crucial question you must ask the land owner or real estate agent before buying the land. It is one of the oldest real estate adages. You need to know everything about the location to make informed decisions about future investment plans. 
For example, you also need to know if such land is sloped. Is it a swampy area? What is the topography of the land? What is the soil type of the land? If these factors are considered, the land will serve the purpose of the purchase and prove a valuable investment in the long run. 
When the land is situated in a developed area, it can add value to it though it may cost more than land in a developing area.
You should also check for access to medical care, shopping malls, schools, relaxation sports, etc. 
You should look into proper drainage channels, construction plans, and changes likely to occur over a long period. These issues would prevent you from making any hasty decision that could have greater future negative consequences.

4. Is There a  Chain of Titles?

So many people have engaged in land transactions with people who are not bona fide owners of the property purchased and, as a result, have suffered significant monetary losses. The people who posed for a good title to the land were scammers preying on innocent buyers. You do not want to fall victim to such a ploy. Hence, you must investigate the title to such property.
Chain of title is the progression of past title transfers to a property from the previous owners. It helps to know the actual owners of the property to avoid problems.
To ensure the land has a proper title chain, ask the seller to give you a copy of the deed. You can check the state’s land registry or involve a legal practitioner to help investigate the title to the land.

5. Are there any Government Zoning Restrictions on the Land?

This relates to existing laws or regulations that guide you on what you can and can’t do on your land.
You need to know the government zoning restrictions to prevent flouting property restrictions.
Find out what you can and cannot do before buying land. For example, you can only start up an agricultural business in an area where it is unrestricted. The county’s planning and zoning Department can help out with this.

5. Are there any Government Zoning Restrictions on the Land?

This relates to existing laws or regulations that guide you on what you can and can’t do on your land.
You need to know the government zoning restrictions to prevent flouting property restrictions.
Find out what you can and cannot do before buying land. For example, you can only start up an agricultural business in an area where it is unrestricted. The county’s planning and zoning Department can help out with this.

6. Will Essential Utilities be Accessible?

Land buyers should ask if utilities like electricity, water, sewer, and the internet are easily accessible before buying land. You must provide utilities if you cannot access them, which becomes an added cost.
Inaccessibility of essential utilities is quite common with rural land, so if you  are buying land in this area, this is a very important question to ask
More often than not, developed areas provide for these utilities, unlike developing and undeveloped areas, where you must provide them as the landlord or property owner.

7. Has Land Surveying been done?

You need to ask if the land is surveyed or not. If not, get a certified surveyor to help set boundaries and produce an accurate land survey plan. It is essential because it helps to ensure you get what you paid for and properly plan your home or business structure.
The land size should be accurate and exactly what the seller or owner tells you. The purpose for which you are buying land can also determine its size. Are you building a place of worship, a factory, a hospital, etc.?
A certified surveyor can help you check the accurate measurement of the land if the land already has a survey plan. If not, the surveyor can help you check if the size is the same as what the seller tells you and subsequently help you draft a survey plan after purchasing the land.

8. Is the Land Accessible?

The land should have a good access road network to major roads. The road network must be easily navigated with network and road connections.
It would not serve you well if you had to ‘trespass’ others’ property to access yours. The seller should be asked if the land is accessible, and you should also see for yourself.
Usually, land bought in rural areas tends to have a poor road network because of the cost, unlike urban areas. You should also ask if the local government or an individual maintains this land.
This is because there might be lingering disputes between localities and communities or individuals, affecting landowners in such a locality. Proper due diligence must be conducted.

9. What are the other ‘Extra’ Expenses?

Aside from the cost of buying the land, you need to know if there are other hidden or ‘extra’ charges before paying for the property. Here in Nigeria, there can be additional charges like development fees, the survey fee, even the ‘Omo Onile’ fee, and probably estate maintenance fee.
. The buyer should note all these extra charges in a signed document between you and the seller. This would enable you to properly evaluate your budget and determine if you have enough to cover all these expenses.

10. Does the Land have Legal Papers?

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The availability and validity of legal documents are crucial to ask before land transactions are completed. If the land needs to be registered, you must bring this to the seller’s attention. So, there must be a sale agreement between land buyers and land sellers.
Buying land with legal papers like a Certificate of Occupancy ( C of O) is better to avoid any issue with anyone or the government. It gives you legal access or full rights to land ownership and can be obtained from the Land Registry Office or the individual who claims ‘ownership’ of the said land. 
It is also necessary to involve a real estate lawyer before buying land to ensure the land is authentic and has no legal restrictions to avoid future complex issues.
Other legal papers are the survey plan, the tax clearance certificate, and the title deed

11. How is the Environment?

You should ask this important question before buying land in Nigeria. The environment is crucial for building your house or setting up a business.
The environment should be pollution-free and not be close to a dumping refuse site. Also, a factory that uses harmful or solid chemicals, smoke from the factory, or any hazardous materials should not be close to your proposed land to prevent future health hazards.
You should also ensure the environment is not seasonally flooded or has any environmental hazards. 

12. Who are your Neighbors?

To a great extent, the neighbors around you determine if you should buy the land. You want to avoid purchasing land in an area where you will have to sell later because of the kind of neighbors you have around or the issue they have. To avoid unnecessary disturbance, you should adequately check those living around the land where you propose to buy any land.

13. Will there be Annual Property Taxes?

Before buying the land, you have to ask if there are any taxes on the land, so you can check if the land fits your budget. If you do not use the land bought, you will still have to pay the annual taxes, so ensure you ask the seller of the property.

14. Are there any Conservation Easements on the Land?

Image Source: Investopedia
An easement Is the right another person has to use your land for several reasons. So, ask if the land has any easement before buying it to avoid problems later.
If there is any conservation easement, you must share your land with your neighbors’ conservation resources group or the general public, which can decrease the purchase price. An easement can also occur due to environmental concerns on the land.

15. Who Owns the Mineral Rights to the Land

If there are any mineral resources in the land, ask if the seller will sell the mineral resources together with the property, though this is very rare. If not, you buy the land, not its mineral resources. So, you cannot sell or make any profit from it.

16. How Will Payment Be Made?

Many people have been duped as a result of the way they made a payment on the property they thought they had bought. When buying land, you should only “PAY CASH” to people with proper documentation or receipt.  It will save you a lot of stress and trouble.
 It is even safer to pay through the bank, cheque, or electronic transfer as this will make payment easily tracked if there is any issue in the future. It is also necessary to employ the service of a lawyer to prepare a purchase receipt that the buyer, seller, and lawyer or any 3rd party can sign to confirm payment for the property.

FAQs 

Will There Be Any Additional Charges Aside From The Cost Of The Land?

In some areas in Nigeria, there are usually additional charges like ‘ Omo Onile’ development and estate maintenance fees. So, it is a necessary factor in these additional costs in your final budget.

What Are The Taxes Applicable When Buying Land?

There are taxes applicable in Nigeria when buying land. These taxes include capital gain tax and annual property tax. You should inquire further about these taxes from the local government office before buying the land or consult a property law attorney for guidance.

How Do I Know I’ve Gotten The Right Piece Of Land?

You know you have the right piece of land when the cost of the land fits into your budget and it is in a good location. Also, you have the right piece of land if it is easily accessible and legal papers are available.
Basic utilities should be easily accessible, and the environment should be free from pollution and hazardous substances that can lead to health issues.

What Are The Necessary Documents That I Must Be Given Ownership Of After The Purchase Of Land?

The documents you must be given include the deed of conveyance, a survey plan outlining the land area, a certificate of occupancy or title issued by the state government, and any other legal documents that might be required in your state. These documents are necessary for proving ownership of the land.

What Is The Average Cost Of Land In Nigeria?

The land cost in Nigeria varies greatly and depends on the location, size, and type of land. A residential land plot can range from N500,000 to N50 million or more, depending on the location and size. Commercial land prices can be much higher than residential land prices.

Conclusion

Buying land is a fantastic long-term investment that is profitable. You should ask questions such as land clearing or tree-cutting restrictions and whether there are property boundaries or lines. So you will be sure of the authenticity of the land to avoid mistakes or issues of being duped or scammed. And also to have full access rights.

With the proper knowledge and guidance, you will indeed purchase your dreamland without any problems in the future.

The land you desire should fit into your budget. You should be sure the area is secure to live in or set up a business place. The location of the land is essential; ask about the location and road access, be it private roads or public roads, before purchasing the land. You should be sure that there are essential utilities on the property.

You should ensure that the size of the land is accurate, get all the necessary documents for the ground to avoid ownership problems, and pay for the land should be documented and signed with the help of a real estate lawyer.

With this guideline, you are sure to enjoy the rest of mind that comes with purchasing land and look forward to a future of greater returns as your land shoots up in value.

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