Real Estate Scams and Fraud: How To Avoid Them

August 6, 2018

With the demand for accommodation more than supply, the Real Estate industry in Nigeria is fraught with various issues or cases of people being duped either by scam agents, con artists and the so called omoniles/Youths.

It then doesn’t come as a surprise when some people fall easy preys to scam agents, con artist in desperation. This article gives you an insight into the real estate scams in the Nigerian context, safeguard you from losing your money to scam agents and double-dealing homeowners and how it can be avoided.

How Not To Get Scammed!
Scams in the real estate industry in Nigeria are real, but real estate scams is not just a Nigerian problem. It is a global phenomenon and there are ways you can protect yourself against being a victim.

Don’t Be In A Rush To Pay
First and foremost, do your due diligence! Be thorough before you put your money down. Don’t be quick to pay; refuse to be rushed or pressured into getting a property.

If they say it’s too good to pass up, check it and be sure, otherwise, pass it up! There will always be great legitimate deals. They might not come often but they will come, so take your time and do your homework well.


Cheap Properties Raise flags
Buying property is not cheap, don’t look for cheap dead property. If it is, it’s probably fraudulent. Properties in Nigeria, especially in Lagos aren’t cheap.

The areas determine how much a land or property is being sold for; so know the asking price for a property in the area you are considering. If it is too cheap, check again and be sure. Yes, it might be favour, but it’s safe to be sure.


Don’t Pay in Cash
If you have a desire to buy land, pay directly through a bank account bearing the name of the seller.Avoid paying cash. If you are going to pay, do it through a means that can be traced.

Insist on writing checks or any other type of payment that doesn’t leave you hanging in the loop if anything goes wrong. You want to be able to hold someone liable when all is not what they seem; so be wise and avoid payments you can’t trace.


Lands without Survey Plans are Highly Risky

The survey plan might actually be the biggest proof that a seller has the right to sell the land to you. Before you buy the land, ask for the survey plan, the survey plan at least tells you that the government is aware of the existence of the land. Make sure that the name on the survey plan is the same as the name of the seller.

You should also check if the coordinates on the survey are the same as the coordinates on the beacon on the land. If the seller can’t provide you with the survey, it might be that the land has never been surveyed or that another person owns the land. Whichever way, it might be smarter to let the deal pass.


Don’t Pay for a Land until You’ve Examined it Physically

I find it hard to understand how you’ll be comfortable sending money to buy a piece of land that you’ve never seen physically, but some people do it. Before you buy land, you must see the land physically; this will ensure that you are getting value for your money.

You’ll know the topography of the land, the kind of neighbourhood and the level of development (if any on the land).

If you can’t visit the land yourself, (maybe you are outside the country), you can send someone you trust to go and help you examine the land physically before you commit to a purchase.


Buy the Land through a Registered Real Estate Agent

Above all, use a reputable estate agent or developer like to help you through the process. Many people shy away from buying land through registered real estate agents, probably because of the commissions that the agency will charge.

However, nothing can be riskier in a land purchase than buying a land without the assistance of a REGISTERED real estate agent. A real estate agent will conduct due diligence on the land to ensure that the seller has the right to sell the land. The real estate agent will verify the valuation of the land in relation to the neighbourhood to ensure that you are not overpaying.


Have you been involved in a real estate scam before or know someone who has? Please share your story with us. The real estate scams are taking various forms and shapes as the days go. Let someone else learn from your story. Drop your comments below or send a mail to

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