Things to Look Out For Before Buying Land in Nigeria

  | 11 min read
Thing to look out for before buying land in Nigeria

Buying land in Nigeria is not the same as buying candy off the shelf of a supermarket. For the latter, all you need to do is pick a candy you like and make a payment it but for the former, there is a process you need to follow and there are steps involved.

It’s important to understand this process as they help you make more informed decisions. This article will highlight everything you need to look out for when buying land in Nigeria. We will look at things like:

  • Budget
  • Location
  • Request For Land Owner’s Documents
  • Verification of land ownership and availability
  • Ask Questions
  • Inspection of the Land
  • Payment Documentation
  • Omo Onile
  • Additional Cost
  • Troubled Land
  • Taking Possession of Acquired Land

Budget - buying land in Nigeria

Budget For Buying Land in Nigeria

Before you even start searching for land to acquire, you must be sure what your budget is. This is directly tied to your decision of how much land you can possibly buy.

For instance, with a budget of N1 million, you are sure of how much you are willing to spend on the acquisition of the land. Remember that the land is not the only important thing in your life. There are several other important things in your life that also need your financial commitment. For example, the fact that you want to buy land does not mean you will stop paying your rent if you live in a rented apartment. Buying land in Nigeria doesn’t also mean that you will stop feeding or neglect other parts of your life.

Before you decide on what your budget for the land is, you must factor in every other important thing that you are financially committed to.

Banana Island in Ikoyi in Lagos - buying land in Nigeria


The cost of a plot of land in Eko Atlantic City is not the same as what the same space of land sells for in Mowe. The former is more expensive given the peculiar character of the neighbourhoods. Eko Atlantic is one of the world’s cutting-edge new cities, and already at an advanced stage of development. It’s a visionary project on a huge scale, achieved by a team of major local and international partners while Mowe is one of the adjoining towns (in Ogun State) from the Ketu-Berger axis of Lagos.

Location plays a crucial role in where you can buy land in Nigeria. Acquiring land in some parts of Lagos is so difficult that you might have to resort to buying the land along with the property that already exists on it.

The more commercially advanced and urban a neighbourhood is, the more expensive it becomes to buy land at such locations. For instance, you can buy a plot of land in Ajah for N500,000 while the same plot of land in Ikoyi can be listed for N140 million.

Some locations have better road networks than others so this is something you also want to put into consideration.

Land Document - buying land in Nigeria - Private Property

Request For Land Owner’s Documents

Before you make payment for any land in any location in Nigeria, you should ask for the following documents:

  • The Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)
  • The Survey Plan
  • The Tax Clearance Certificate
  • The Deed of Assignment

Never make payment for land without the provision of these vital documents. Don’t take anything for granted because this is one way fraudulent individuals exploit unsuspecting land buyers. Many have fallen victim to this scam and several others have found themselves in court contesting ownership of land that they paid for without following due process.

It doesn’t matter if you are buying the land from a friend or a close relative whom you trust. Buying land in Nigeria is a financial transaction and should be treated as such. Always insist on seeing the original copies of the aforementioned documents before buying land in Nigeria. Don’t make yourself an easy target for a scam.

Verified - Buying land in Nigeria

Verification of Land Ownership and Availability

It is not enough to request for the owner’s copy of the land he/she intends to sell to you, it is particularly important to verify the authenticity all the documents that are provided.

Having the documents sent to you is one thing, verifying them is another thing entirely.

There is a possibility of you stumbling on an opportunity to buy land and getting a good deal but don’t get carried away to the point of neglecting the documents. Jumping at a good deal to buy land is fine but you need to be extremely sure of what you are buying and avoid leaving anything to chance.

Ask for proof of ownership. Involve verification experts before you pay for any piece of land. Don’t take anything for granted. The process of land investigation is quite complicated and you should leave it to professionals to do this on your behalf.

Ask Questions Before Buying Land in Nigeria

After you have verified the documents, please feel free to ask as many questions as you want. For instance, it is important to know why the owner of the land has chosen to sell the land. Ask if there is any dispute or pending litigation over the land in question.

You can also find out if the land was inherited and remember to cross-check the answers against the documents provided. Make sure the dates also check out.

You also need to run a ground check on the owner of the property, the land as well as the documents presented by the seller. The last thing you want is to be stuck with fake documents given to you in a hurry by a scam seller. The last thing you want to do is to pay for land that becomes problematic.

Land-Inspection - buying land in Nigeria

Inspection of the Land

Avoid delegating the inspection of the land that you intend to buy to someone else. Go and inspect the land yourself and see things with your own eyes. Don’t rely on a third party to do this for you no matter how much you trust this person. The only exception to this is when you are going to inspect the land in the company of a real estate expert.

You can rely on a real estate professional’s guidance and experience to see things differently from the way you see them. Despite this advantage, endeavour to make yourself physically available for the inspection of the land.

Regardless of how busy your schedule is, you have to find a way to create enough time to carry out a thorough inspection of the land before you buy it. A growing number of people have been swindled just because they were too busy to carry out a thorough inspection of the land before making payment.

Pictures sent to you by the landowner is good but going for an inspection of the land is much better.

Documentation and Payment

Take the pain to document every single part of the transactions involved in buying land in Nigeria. Every single part of the deal needs to be documented; from the cost of land to the survey fees.

Documentation is vital for referencing and you should ensure the documents are detailed.

Anyone who tries to sell you land and is reluctant to show you proof of ownership is as good as trying to sell you a stolen car. Would you buy a stolen car? Documents like the receipt, land survey, Letter of Allocation, Power of Attorney, Gazette and Deed of Assignment must be available. It doesn’t matter if this person is your aunt, uncle or boss at work, a document is a document and there is no substitute for it. A land verification expert can do this on your behalf.

Omo Onile - buying land in Nigeria

Omo Onile

There are certain costs that you will incur in addition to the cost of the land itself. In Nigeria, the activities of Omo Onile has become a prominent part of land acquisition in Nigeria.

Omo Onile, by literal meaning, refers to ‘child of the landowner’ but technically, they are miscreants with a powerful network of notoriety within the real estate circle in Nigeria. They are also known as land grabbers.

They have to be factored into your plans to buy land and the reason is simple – They have a way of making things difficult for you if you decide to ignore them.

Omo Onile: You must be wary of thugs, crooks and touts who pose as land grabbers. These notorious entities are to be feared given the horror stories shared by land buyers in Nigeria

Avoid buying land from them. Focus on doing due diligence before you buy the land. This helps you avoid buying land that has already been acquired. Remember to get all documents that prove you own the land including the Certificate of Occupancy also known as the C of O.


To tackle the problem of Omo Onile, the government approved a 21-year jail sentence for anyone charged and found guilty of land grabbing. The Lagos State House of Assembly also pulled its weight by prohibiting forceful entry and illegal occupation of land in a state.

Omo Onile arrested in Lagos - Private Property

If you ever find yourself confronted by Omo Onile, you should gather evidence and forward them to security agencies to take action.

Additional Cost - buying land in Nigeria

Additional Cost of Buying Land in Nigeria

The fact that the price of a plot of land has been set at N8 million doesn’t mean that’s all you’re going to pay. Extra fees that come with building a house in Nigeria include:

A). Survey Plan: This rests largely on the location of the land and is usually between N150,000 and N300,000.

B). Legal Fee: This is usually 5% of what the land costs

C). Agency Fee: This is also 5% of what the land costs

D). Cost of Signing Documents: The officials in Lagos State in charge of this have a strange tradition of making you pay to get your documents. In other states in Nigeria, this is not applicable.

E). Cost of Securing Your Documents: Before you perfect your documents like your C of O at the Land Registry, you’ll be required to pay a fee.

This land is not for sale - buying land in Nigeria

Troubled Land

In some cases, you might come across a land that has trouble written all over it. In Nigeria, such properties are not difficult to spot as they have signposts warning prospective buyers like you to erase any interest you might have in buying the land.

Such signposts carry the inscription ‘This Land is Not For Sale.’ In such cases, it is in your best interest to stay away from such land.

Taking Possession of Acquired Land

The last thing you want to do is acquire land, get all the necessary documents and leave it unguarded simply because you have paid for it. This is a decision many have made and lived to regret.

Omo Onile, landgrabbers and scam agents are always on the prowl for unguarded land. They end up forging documents and selling such land to several other people.

There have been cases of land buyers who paid for land only to return to it after some months/years to be shocked by someone else erecting a property on a land that they legitimately paid for.

Avoid making your land prone to land grabbers by taking possession of it upon acquiring it. How do you do this? Erect a perimeter fence around your property. The fence doesn’t need to be really high but it should be visible even from a distance.

The fence lets other prospective buyers know that the land has been acquired. You can go the extra mile of having a decent amount of gravel/sand on the land or even constructing a well. Remember to visit the site frequently and hire a local guard to help you watch over it pending when you’ll be ready to erect a property on the land.

Final Thoughts

Before you pay for any land, it is important to carry out a thorough research and work on proper documentation. Working with a trusted real estate agent also saves you a lot of trouble as they have more experience in dealing with all that has to do with land acquisition and selling. Property experts will guide you towards buying land in Nigeria and avoiding risks involved.

Samod Biobaku
A Nigeria-based writer and blogger who has written and edited for top brands including The SUN, Punch, Newswatch,, Bigsam Media, Nigerian Bulletin, Swish Interativ, Hello Nigeria, National LIFE, iCampus, Jobberman and Cheki.