Process of buying a house in lagos and title documents Nigeria (2022)

Buying a house in Lagos Nigeria involves various legal requirements and important process to be followed. The first important step towards purchasing a property in Nigeria is to engage a property lawyer who can verify the title of the proposed house to be purchased. It is only a lawyer who would ensure one does not run into legal troubles with property title after purchase, and also by Nigerian laws, it is only lawyers that are statutorily permitted to prepare legal documents (instruments) for transfer of an interest in any property for a fee.


The following steps are crucial and must be carefully followed for buying any property in Lagos Nigeria:


The first stage in property transactions is the investigation of the title of the property presented by a vendor.

The Purchaser's solicitor proceeds to investigate to verify the vendor's name as well as to determine that there are not any defects in the stated name of the property. The investigation may involve several searches at various registries where records of properties and encumbrances are actually kept. Searches may be conducted in the following places or the following manners-

  • Search at the Lands Registry - The Land Instrument Registration Law of each State establishes a land registry for the State, in which documents relating to land within the territory are actually maintained, and it varies from one State to another. In Lagos State, such search may be conducted at Land Registry, Alausa Ikeja Lagos in accordance with the provisions of the Land Registration Law of Lagos State 2015.
  • Charting at Surveyor General Office: where any property to be purchased cannot be searched at the land registry to the fact that the property is yet to be registered, the purchaser, through its solicitors, may apply for the charting of the land at the Surveyor General Office. The charting will reflect whether the land falls under any government acquisition or not. A land already registered would have ordinarily passed through this process, and there may not be any need to further conduct charting at Surveyor General Office.
  • Search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) – This is needed where the previous owner or the vendor is actually a business incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act. Apart from the queries at the land registry, there ought to be an additional search at the CAC to disclose whether or maybe not there is any encumbrance at all on the property.
  • Physical Inspection – This is a private visit to the property in question to discover if there is any problem with the property, or perhaps to determine the real dimensions of the land and whether it conforms to the dimensions on the survey at the land survey office.

For properties located in choice areas that cost huge sums of cash, it might not be out of place to conduct additional due diligence by looking at the profile and history of the vendors via online or mainstream media to ascertain such persons and or property are not subject of any investigation. This will prevent the danger of confiscation of the property by any anti-corruption agency. The due diligence process may also reveal whether there is any pending lawsuit in respect of the property to be purchased.


After the purchaser, through his solicitor has ascertained that the seller has a genuine title to the land or property, the next phase is to prepare a contract of sale for the property.

The contract of sale is usually a preliminary document to tidy up the transaction between the seller and buyer. It contains some agreements that cannot be included in the transfer document. It is also the first document that can be drafted where the buyer of any real estate intends to make payments on installments Such a contract will prevent gazumping, a situation where the seller wants to work away from the agreement of selling the property to the first buyer, perhaps because he has gotten a higher offer from a new buyer.


Deed of Assignment is usually the document that transfers the title of a property from a seller to the buyer. It is a registrable document that must be stamped and registered with the relevant authority.

The Deed of Assignment may be prepared by the buyer's solicitor and reviewed by the vendor or vice-versa. The documents will be executed by parties and their witnesses. At this point, some outstanding sum or maybe balance will be paid by the purchaser if only an installment has been paid by the purchaser before.

The next step is for the seller to submit all original documents relating to the title of the land to the buyer.

The Deed of Assignment is usually to be accompanied by the survey of the property in question as these are needed for the registration of the property, which will be the next stage.

At this stage, the purchaser can take full possession of the property.


By the provisions of the Land Use Act, the consent of the governor of the state in which the land/property sold is situated must be obtained when a landed property has been transferred between parties.

Upon the transfer of the property by the seller to the purchaser, the new buyer must register the property with the government to complete the transactions.

Registering properties in Nigeria includes a process, which involves obtaining the governor's consent, payment of stamp duties and registration of assignment or conveyance at the Lands Registry of a state. This is required to ensure compliance with pertinent statutes and defend the legal validity of the purchaser's name to the property.


Of the process of buying land, there are several relevant documents required from the seller to be able to effectively pass a good title to the purchaser. These documents are essential as they tend to prove the ownership interest of the seller. One must be aware that there are various types of property documents in Nigeria. These documents include the followings:

  • Approved survey plan: This is a crucial document that helps to reveal the actual location of any property and the boundaries of the property. It will also reveal whether the land is under any government acquisition or not.
  • Deed of Assignment: It is a really important document, which should be prepared by either seller or buyer of the land after the conclusion of any land transaction. It is a document used to transfer an interest in a property from one person to another. Where the seller previously purchased the house to be sold from another seller, the new buyer needs to demand a copy of this document to enable him or her to trace the history of the house to be purchased.
  • Probate & Letter of Administration: Where in any property’s transaction, the owner is late, the buyer needs to request for the grant of probate or letter of administration in respect of the property. Any documents directly owned by a deceased in respect of his or her property before death becomes invalidated after his or her death to convey title in the said property. The grant of probate or letter of administration will become the document that serves as a legal title in respect of any land or house owned by a deceased person. The document will name Executors or Administrators, as the case may be, who can sign any document transferring the interest in the property called Assent.
  • Certificate of Occupancy (CofO): The CofO certifies the legal ownership status of any land or property in Nigeria irrespective of its use. It is usually delivered to the owner of land by the government attesting to the owner's interest in the property where such interest is actually following the applicable laws. It is a legal document indicating that an individual that has acquired an interest in land having been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the governor of the state. The CofO is not usually applicable to all properties. It is usually issued to persons who have owned a property in Nigeria before the enactment of the Land Use Act 1978 or to people who are getting direct property allocation from any government.
  • Governor’s Consent: A governor’s consent is not a document on its own. It is the approval or attestation of a state governor by himself or through its designated commissioner to any property transfer. Under the Land Use Act of 1978, approval of the governor of a state is required in respect of any transaction involving the transfer or conveying of any property interest from one person to another.
  • Power of Attorney: It is required where an agent is acting for the owner of the house. It is a document that authorizes a particular person to act on the behalf of the real owner of the house.

Finally, it is essential to involve a lawyer when one intends to buy a house in Nigeria, as the responsibilities and roles of a lawyer concerning buying property are all-encompassing. Primarily, the solicitor must investigate the property title, prepare or review the property contract and agreement among others.

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