Important Real Estate Documents You should be knowledgeable about…(PART 1)

A lot of people investing in real estate in Nigeria do not know what the different land documents mean. As a result, they make costly mistakes when buying into real estate. This piece aims to equip you with basic knowledge of important real estate sale documents so you can make wise/informed decisions when considering an investment in real estate.


A land survey plan is a specialized map of a parcel of land, created by thoroughly examining and measuring the property. It determines and delineates boundary locations, building locations, physical features and other items of spatial importance. A survey plan is a public document and not a private cheque book, so you shouldn’t be bamboozled by people who tell you that the owner doesn’t want to release it because of security reasons. Trust me there is no reason. As long as he/she is ready to sell, that is the first thing you get from them to know your status before proceeding.

A survey plan enables the reader to ascertain:

  • the size and shape of the property
  • the location of rights of ways and easements
  • dimensions and distances to the boundary of houses, sheds, fences, utilities and any features of importance to the landowner
  • the location and description of physical monuments or markers that have been placed to mark the limits of the land

Survey plans, when required, also include topographic mapping features identifying elevations and prominent features such as trees, hedges, fences, sewer access manholes and more. They can reveal hidden title deficiencies, highlight building encroachments and demonstrate authentic property dimensions that do not necessarily correspond with (and override) the unverified descriptions included in the deed.

Survey plans are highly valued by lawyers, courts, banks and realtors, as well as other institutions and government agencies because they are created by specially trained, tested and licensed professionals. Approval agencies, such as municipal building departments, rely on surveys to make decisions about submissions and confirming compliance with design, code and zoning by-law criteria.

The Lagos state government disclosed that effective 1st of April, 2017, survey plan fee for Lagos state would be increased by three hundred percent. This new fee is not uniform as highbrow areas attract higher fees while places more suitable for the low income earners are valued at a lesser fee.

Accordingly, in places like Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry Ojo and Ajeromi Ifelodun local governments, where the survey fee was N120,000.00, the survey plan fee is now N350,000. Land surveys for Lagos Island, Etiosa, Ikeja and Apapa, which used to cost N300,000, now cost N1 million. Somolu, Alimoso, Mushin, Agege, Ibeju Lekki, Kosofe, Lagos mainland, Amuwo Odofin Local Government areas previously surveyed at a cost of N180,000 now cost N650,000.

In summary, a survey plan is an essential home-ownership document that will help you protect your property rights and enjoy your land with confidence and peace of mind.



Defined as Land Use Decree on the 28th of March, 1978 that vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the State Governors. The Land Use Act coupled with other laws makes it possible for the Governor, now the owner of all lands in the state, to actually have the power to acquire more lands compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide amenities for the greater good of the citizens. Fortunately, the government recognizes that indigenes of different sections of the country have a right to existence . . . a right to the land of their birth. Hence, it is customary for state government to cede a portion of land to the original owners (natives) of each area.

An Excision means basically taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised, will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state. In other words, not having an excision means the land could be seized by the Government anytime without compensating you even if you bought it “Legitimately” from the Baale or the Original dwellers on the land.



A government gazette is a periodical publication that records the business and proceedings of a government and has been authorized to publish to the public for legal notices. It is usually established by statute or officials whether by the government or a private party, it is usually considered sufficient to comply with legal requirements for public notice. Gazette provides a permanent official public record of important statutory and non-statutory notices that can be used to support legal and other processes, and act as a means of advertising public notices. This is a document that records and expresses the areas the government has given to the family and community to acquire and that the government won’t secure it for any reason with the exception of an appropriate information.

Before the Land-Use Act of 1978 was enacted, traditional families, who had so much land under their control, gave out lands to individuals under a tenancy system for them to use either for fishing or farming while they still maintained control over the portion of the land given to the individual. These land owners had so much power. After the creation of Lagos Executive Development Board in the 1950s, individuals could acquire land from the board directly in exchange for a sum of money. This made the traditional land owners keep some lands for family use and directly sell some for a sum of money to compete with the Lagos executive development board. This system still made the traditional rules powerful, having the power to keep or sell any land they desire. It was for this and other reasons that the land use decree of 1978 was promulgated vesting all lands in the state to the government.

Thus, people now directly obtain land from the Governor of the state, who makes it official by issuing a certificate of occupancy (C of O) to buyers. This system of government has permanently reduced the powers of traditional owners of land because the land use act empowers the government to compulsorily acquire land for public purposes. Any land acquired by the governor of a state is termed URBAN land and any area termed as an URBAN land will be or is published in the official Government book also known as the Gazette and the rest of the land that is not acquired is given back to the community where it was acquired from.

There are two things a Gazette does:
1. It determines the area of a land.
2. It gives the coordinates e.g. the Beacon Numbers that separates where the Land given to the family starts and stops.

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