Unsolicited legal advice!
1. Do not erect a single block on a property you have not completed the documentation to perfect your title.
2. If it’s a developed property, immediately after purchase, make sure you perfect your documents. Please do not wait for years before you do that. The government can come knocking at any time of the day and no government will pay compensation for any property without a valid title.
3. Family receipt and survey plans are not title documents. Contract of sale is not a title document. Do not pay for any property that the seller will not be giving you a Deed of Assignment.
4. Land registry is not the only place to visit to ascertain whether a property or title is encumbered, engage a good lawyer to appropriately advise you. You are not doing a lawyer any favour by paying adequate professional fees.
5. When buying family land, make sure the people selling to you are the head of the family and principal members. One person cannot sell a family or community land. If you pay for such land, just tell yourself, oti lor.
6. When developing your property and government agencies come knocking and mark your property with “stop work”, please do not “sort” them with the hope that you will get away with it. Make sure that you do the “proper things” by obtaining the necessary approvals and permits. You cannot always sort your ways out of the proper thing. It takes an upright person to go through your files and make the harsh decision that you may live to regret the effects on your properties. A word they say is enough for the wise.
7. Property agents and surveyors are not more important in property transactions than lawyers. If you can pay your agents and surveyors well, why don’t you want to pay lawyers well? Well, when the problems happen, property agents and surveyors will be as good as unimportant but you will run after lawyers. Don’t join them to say “Wetin lawyers they do sef”
8. Do not pay for a property that the owner doesn’t want to sign any document. Do not buy any property on “trust me, everybody in the community knows me”. If you do, just say buy buy to your money and land, when yawa happens. So pe Oti lor.
9. Do not buy property in the name of your wife, children or siblings or relatives with the intention that you are keeping the properties in their names. If you must, make sure it’s clearly stated that they are holding the properties “in trust”. Any property that does not carry your name, you cannot lay claims to it, even if you paid for it.
10. As you are buying your properties, make sure you have a will, or keep inventory of your properties and keep it with your lawyer. There are people who don’t even know the places they own properties because they don’t keep records. Also, keep copies of your title documents with your lawyers, even if you won’t keep the original. Also, let your family know details of your property before you die. Many people have been left stranded after the death of their supposedly rich relatives because they cannot trace their properties.