When i bought my first land from an Omonile some years back i was totally naive about the ways and customs involved in buying a land in Lagos. I thought it was a straight cash and carry business and that was it. Little did i know my pockets would be further drained by so many mundane local fees that should make the Tax office jealous. The more i protested, the more the unexpected and unplanned fees kept coming till i almost regretted buying that bloody land when i wasn’t ready. Back then, i had no one to educate me about the perils of buying a land without knowing the fees involved and now that i know, its my pleasure to share them freely with you so that you don’t blow a hole in your pocket like me. So please take note of the following costs below:
a. Full sized cost of the plot of land: It’s imperative to know the true cost of the land from your Agent even before you go and see the land. Don’t assume the price will arbitrarily drop because you’re putting pressure on them to sell, rather you will be shocked that these Omoniles will increase the price of the Land when they see your desperate. They will come up will all sorts of eye brow raising excuses to push you to buy it quickly. My favorite all time Nonsensical skin crawling excuses that never seem to get old include the following:
1. “Another person is interested in buying this land too so you have to pay this price quickly before a certain time or date before that new person comes to pay for it” ( Its really surprising that a land that has been on sale for so many months all of a sudden has turned into the flavour of the month the moment you showed your interest to buy it….How Shocking!!!)
2. “The owner of the Land is no longer selling because he thinks the agent has wrongfully devalued the property” (Whatever!!! Tell them to chop their land and drink Big Pepsi after they have eaten their land. Since its not by force to Sell, its also not by force for you to buy a land that you can’t afford. Land Full the Whole Lagos Abegi!)
Quick Tip: Never EVER presume the Selling Cost of the Land. Request for the asking price and tell the agent to reconfirm from the Omonile what the selling price is. Once you ‘re sure of the price, you can start negotiating the price properly.
b. Family Receipt and Signing of the Deed of Assignment and Form 1c: This fee to me is hard to swallow because it just reeks of fraud, manipulation and blackmail. Since a major requirement at the Land Bureau for you to perfect your land documents is to present a Family receipt and Signed Form 1c, the Omoniles have cashed in on the desperation of purchasers to obtain these documents that ought to be free by demanding very huge sums of money to do what is legally your right for them to do. In some areas the Omoniles will charge you from N50,000 and above to issue you a family receipt for the land you just bought. It makes no absolute sense.
How do you buy something and still pay money to get a receipt for a product you just bought from the same person? Absolute lunacy at its best! It’s like walking into a car dealership to buy a car and still pay money to obtain proof of ownership of that same car you bought from the dealer in his own shop? Its just plain crazy and dubious and if you challenge them, they will tell you that its their custom and culture they have been practicing for centuries and it won’t end now. If your extremely adverse to making that payment, the Omoniles will tell you that they are not obliged to issue you a receipt but when other members of their family challenge you the buyer in future for your receipt and you can’t produce it, then you will be forced to approach them to pay double the fees originally demanded when you’re really desperate. In fact they will fill your head with all sorts of terrifying Hammer House of Horror stories of people who have lost their land because they didn’t pay for Omonile Receipt that you will be forced to pay the money immediately and tell them thank you for obtaining your own legal receipt.
The madness doesn’t stop there because if your buying a land that already has a Global C/O or a Government Gazette allocated to a specific community and the Family heads and representatives are duty bound legally to sign your deed of assignment ( otherwise known as a deed of transfer of title) and the Form 1c ( which is a Lagos state land Bureau Questionnaire to give details about the land you have just purchased to assist the Land Bureau collate your information to procure your Governors Consent to show proof of transfer of ownership), these Omoniles will still charge you a sizable fee for them to legally transfer this sign this document to you.
Once again it makes no sense and this is the beginning of fraud 101 in land transactions in Lagos. The Lagos state government is aware of this fraud and they encourage it by keeping a blind eye to this evil practice that is totally repugnant to natural justice. Some areas in Lekki/ Ajah charge as high as 1 Million Naira just to sign your title documents after they have collected your money for the cost of the land. As long as they know that you must demand a receipt, signed deed of assignment and signed Form 1c, they know they have to legally scam you to collect these amount unless you won’t have peace of mind on that land.
c. Agency Fees: Most Agents charge 5% of the cost of the land and this money goes directly to them but atimes these fees are negotiable but always make sure the agent works for that 5%. I am not a fan of agents who demand 5% for just pointing to the land for sale and showing the prospective buyer around. It’s the Agents duty to work for you, obtain all the documents needed for the lawyer to do your search, negotiate the price of the land favourably on your behalf and sign as a witness to your documents.
d. Solicitor’s Fees: Same as the Agent’s Fee above. It’s a 5% structural fee of the cost of the land. The solicitor is to draft all the necessary documents needed to transfer title to you. The Solicitors fees also depend on the kind of property you’re buying. Some Omoniles will tell you that they only deal with their own lawyer who would draft your documents and give them to you so as to guarantee the source of the documents and they may go ahead to charge you more than the 5%. It’s your duty to find out which one is more economical to you in the long run but I will always advise on you getting your own private lawyer to stand on your behalf because a lawyer representing the Omonile is only duty bound to protect the Omoniles first and foremost.
e. Surveyor’s Fees: A surveyor will charge you for drawing up a survey plan and visiting the site to measure the size of the land. It ranges between N80,000 to N300,000 depending on the area he is surveying. Make sure you discuss the cost properly with him or her. Also like the solicitor, the Omoniles might prefer to work with their own family surveyor to draft your Survey Plan, so make sure your well informed who and who can draft your survey documents and know the right fees to pay.
f. Omonile Fees: The silliest of all fees that stinks to the highest heavens. This is beyond blackmail and its worse than robbing you directly in a bank. They charge you for the following:
i. Community Development Levy: A fee to develop the community in Theory alone. What exactly are they developing? They will tell you that they want to grade the roads, provide pipe borne water, emancipate the youths and provide schools. All nah lie! It’s going into the pockets of a few to buy Peppersoup and Nkwobi that night. The price could range from N50,000 and above depending on the area your buying the land.
ii. Foundation Fees: The most nauseating one so far. After you spend all these money to just acquire a land from one community so as to have peace of mind, the next thing is that before you build you must pay the family elders a certain amount of money before you put a foundation on the land. The prices are ridiculous to say the least starting from N100,000 and above. Some areas charge as high as N300,000 to N500,000 for just foundation alone and you must engage the local community to supply you with most of the building materials unless they won’t allow you work peacefully.
After you get to the decking stage, some communities expect you to pay another huge sum as highlighted above to commensurate the fact you have reached the decking of your house and once you get to the roofing stage, your finished. You must pay them equivalent of what you paid for the foundation. It’s a complete riot out there and there is nothing that can be done to stop it.
iii. Community Youth and Elders Fees: I have no idea what this fee is or what it does but its just an avenue to siphon more money from a purchasers pocket.
I can’t wait for the proposed Lagos State Properties Protection Bill 2013 to be passed to nullify these money grabbing thieves. The bill is to protect potential buyer(s) from Omonile before or during construction work. The proposed bill would prevent anyone, who without lawful authority, used or threatened violence for the purpose of securing entry into any landed property for himself or for any other person(s). The bill, makes provision for the establishment of a special court and stipulates a fine of N300,000 or three years imprisonment for any person found guilty.
Now that you are now aware of all the costs associated with Purchasing an Omonile Land, make sure You don’t fall for their Scams and pay for extra things that aren’t part of the fees stated above so as not to blow a hole in your pocket all in the name of being a Landowner in Lagos.