According to Wikipedia, Due diligence is an investigation of a business or person prior to signing a contract, or an act with a certain standard of care. It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations. The theory behind due diligence holds that performing this type of investigation contributes significantly to informed decision making by enhancing the amount and quality of information available to decision makers and by ensuring that this information is systematically used to deliberate in a reflexive manner on the decision at hand and all its costs, benefits, and risks. When it comes to landed property transaction, conducting a due diligence not only ensures that the property buyers is not conned, it also ensures that the buyer does not buy a government acquired property amongst others. Highlighted in this article are several ways to conduct due diligence before consummating a property transaction.
CHART A SURVEY PLAN
One of the most common title that a property buyer is often presented with is a registered survey plan. As a way of carrying out due diligence before consummating a property transaction, a chart of the survey plan to the landed property can be carried out at the Surveyor General’s Office. The Survey Plan amongst other things will reveal the status of the land and give information on whether the landed property to be bought has been acquired by government or free from government acquisition. If the land is acquired by government, the chart will also show whether the land is ratifiable; in a situation that the land is not yet earmarked for a government project. A registered Surveyor should be employed to carry out the chart. The process involves taking beacon numbers of the survey plan as verified by the Registered Surveyor and then checking it against the master survey plan of the state at the Surveyor General’s Office. Fees that are charged for this service vary and are largely dependent of the size of the landed property and its location.
CONDUCT A SEARCH
A search in Lagos State which could be electronic (imputing the number on the title into the Registry’s computer) or manual (looking through manually archived copies assisted by an official of the Registry) is done at the Lagos State Lands Registry located within the Lagos Lands Bureau, Block 13/ 14 Alausa Secretariat Ikeja. The Registry is the custodian of all registered land instruments in Lagos (apart from Federal Land) which include Deeds of Assignments, Leases, Subleases, Mortgages, Releases and Assents, Orders of Court/Judgments, Purchase Receipts and Certificates of Occupancy amongst others. While the presentation of a copy of the title or number by which it has been registered with is sufficient to detect imperfections on the title like whether there is a mortgage on it, litigation or has been sold to someone else during a search, an original copy of the title will have to be used for a search to detect whether it has been cloned or not. A search simply help to cross check for errors in signature, passport photographs, registered numbers and several other printed errors on the title. Conducting a search at the Lands Registry includes the following procedures. Firstly, writing an application letter to the Registrar of Titles. This application will contain the particulars of the property like the name of title owner, registration particulars, address of property and survey plan of the property. Secondly, the application will be accompanied by a letter of authority by the said owner of the title authorising the applicant to conduct the search and then the application will also be supported by a sworn affidavit declaring the status of the applicant (for instance, as the purchaser’s solicitor) and the purpose of the search. After that, the application, affidavit and letter should be submitted to the Registrar of Titles at the Lands Registry, Alausa and then the applicant then proceeds to the search room where a bill is issued. Although the search can be done personally by the applicant, in most cases, Lawyers are engaged to conduct the search for speedy and accurate results.
EMPLOY THE SERVICE OF A PROFESSIONAL
Whether it is conducting a search, carrying out a chart or the entire process of consummating a property transaction, it is important that professionals are engaged at the different stages of the transaction. While a Surveyor will be needed to do a chart of the survey plan or prepare a new survey plan if it is not available, a lawyer does the job of conducting a search at the lands registry (lawyers with experience with real estate transactions and documentation procedure). An Estate Surveyor and Valuer helps to place proper value on a property and also ensures that the best is gotten out of every real estate deal. The Estate Surveyor and Valuer also professionally guides the property buyers through the whole process of purchase.
RECHECK WITH LOCAL SOURCES
Checking with local sources requires the buyer taking a personal drive or visit to the location of the property and talking to people around. Grapevines from people around in some instances could be helpful in understanding the history of the landed property. Most times people around a landed property will be able to give useful information that can be very invaluable. Such visit will also help to shed more light on issues concerning pricing and appropriate value of the property by comparing it with those of other properties around it.
GO ONLINE FOR ANY USEFUL INFORMATION
Although information on the internet these days should not be taken without a recheck, in many instances when it concerns property transaction, such information have turned out to be very helpful. It really does not take anything to go online, punch details of the property to see if anything useful will pop-up.