In this write up, I explain the process of buying real estate in Africa.  will describe the parties involved, the types of real estate that are available and the documents that are required.

Parties Involved in a Real Estate Transaction

There are five people or organizations involved in any real estate deal:

1. The Buyer

his is you. (If you are buying on behalf of someone else, please ensure you have the written authorization to do so.)

2. The Seller

This may be a friend, family member, real estate company, property developer, government, community or an agent. Someone tells you about a piece of property or advertises one, and then invites you to buy.

Friend or Family Member

If the offer is from a friend or family member, you should consider the following: Have you ever done business with them before? How long have you known them? What is their reputation like? Do you have mutual friends? Ask for a letter of introduction, if they represent a company.

If a family is selling their inheritance, please ensure the individual you are dealing with is the designated executor of the estate. If the executor is available, ensure he/she signs all legal documents, even if the actual negotiation is done by an agent.

Real Estate Company or Agent

If it’s a real estate company or agent, please ensure they have a proper office and staff. Visit their office and ask about previous deals, then verify that those deals took place. This may take some time, but the good thing is, if you find a good company or agent, you can do business with them for many years to come. A bank may also be a seller of reclaimed property from unpaid loans.


If a community is selling (in Nigeria known as, “Omo Onile”), make sure you are dealing with the legal representative of that community; the recognized “Baale”, for instance, who will sign all legal documents on behalf of the community.


If the Government is selling (for example, plots in a new town), please verify the official agents from the websites of relevant agencies (Lands Bureau, Development and Property Corporation, Ministry of Housing or New Towns Development Authority).

3. Lawyer

There are some documents that must be developed in any real estate deal. Please ensure they are written or reviewed by a Lawyer that has been called to the bar in that country or state. Avoid non-real estate specialists.

4. Surveyor

To determine the area or boundary of land being sold to you, in Africa, a surveyor is needed. They will take the measurements to the Lands Bureau to verify the boundaries of the land, and ensure it’s not been encroached on by a neighbour.

5. The Government

The Lands Bureau or Department in any state is authorized to authenticate and lodge property documents from any real estate transaction. They will help you to verify the authenticity of the real estate owners of record. They will also confirm if the land you are interested in has been earmarked for future government acquisition or an infrastructural project. In which case, don’t buy it. However, if there’s a beneficial infrastructure project not too far away, this will enhance the value of your purchase in the long run.


Any sale or transaction that does not involve government offices is suspicious. Do not do it.

Finally, trust and credibility are the most important factors in buying real estate. As such, due diligence is non-negotiable.

In my follow up article, I describe the different types of real estate that you can buy and the documentation involved. Please read it here.

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