Land is a natural resource upon which all human activities are dependent. An understanding of the nitty-gritty of a registered or virgin land transaction is very important for prospective sellers and buyers to ensure valid title is transferred and the prospective buyer enjoys peaceful possession.
A virgin land is a land occupied by the first settler and has neither been occupied by another person nor under acquisition by the Government. The owner of such land is entitled to get a Certificate of Occupancy (also known as Deemed Grant Consent in Lagos State) on that land.It is important to note that title to land in respect of a virgin or unregistered land cannot be verified in the Lands Registry because only registered lands have their particulars recorded at the Lands registry.
The following are some guidelines to be taken into consideration by a prospective buyer when purchasing an unregistered/virgin land:
a) Determine your Budget and the Size of the land to be purchased: a prospective buyer should determine the amount of money he is willing to spend on the purchase of the land. Also, the size of the land should be ascertained in order to ensure it meets the prospective purchaser’s specifications.
b) Identification and Inspection of the Land: this involves ascertaining the location, topography and thorough inspection of the land to determine the nature and condition of the land.
c) Verification of the owner’s title to the land: this is important to avoid buying a land that may be subject to a litigation suit. Hence, to verify the title of a virgin or unregistered land, enquiries can be made from the village heads or traditional chiefs or owners of adjourning lands opposite and adjacent to the land or the neighborhood where the land is situate.
d) Verify whether the land is free from government acquisition: With the assistance of a Surveyor and a Global Positioning System (GPS) device, visit the land to pick the coordinates. Chart the coordinates at the office of the Surveyor General or apply for a Land Information Certificate to determine the status of the land .
e) Ascertain the Neighborhood Features of the land: a prospective buyer should ascertain whether the neighborhood features of the land suits or conform with the purpose of the land, be it residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural purposes and amongst others.
f) Background Check for Land laws and regulations: a prospective buyer should check for the laws and regulations governing and controlling the development of land in the area where the land is situated such as, zoning laws, land use control, building regulation control among others.
g) Engage the services of competent and vast soliciting firm.
The above-mentioned steps are necessary to secure a valid and authentic title to land bearing in mind that fraudsters and scammers are usually involved in land transactions. Above all, a prospective buyer in the purchase of land should be careful, knowledgeable with adequate information and engage professionals to get the best in this endeavor.
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