Have you ever dreamed of owning a property in West Africa, precisely Ghana or Nigeria? Well, this dream can become a reality if you become familiar with the complex nature of property ownership and registration processes in these countries. To avoid the complicated procedures, it is essential to seek assistance from credible and result-oriented real estate companies that can help you navigate the real estate markets. In this article, we will discuss the property classifications and buying procedures in Ghana and Nigeria, with a focus on how foreigners can purchase properties in these countries.
Navigating the Ghanaian Real Estate Market
First and foremost, it is important to understand the different types of land ownership in Ghana. Ghanaian land is classified into four main types: private land, family land, customary or stool-owned land, and government land. Private land is owned by individuals or private entities and is the most common type of land in Ghana. It is important to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that the land actually belongs to the individual or entity you are transacting with. Family land is owned by families, and it is advisable to ensure that you are dealing with the bonafide head of the family who has the authority to administer the land on behalf of the family. Customary or stool land is owned by traditional leaders of an area, and the administration is usually overseen by the Chief of that area or community. Government land is land acquired by the government from traditional leaders or individuals, usually for developmental purposes. Once you have identified the type of land you wish to purchase, the next step is to conduct a land search to confirm the status of the land and the ownership. Land litigation cases make up about 80 percent of all cases in the high court in Ghana, so it is essential to follow all due processes and obtain professional and legal advice when buying land in Ghana.
It is important to note that as a foreigner, there are no major restrictions on buying property in Ghana. However, it is crucial to seek professional and legal advice to avoid running into issues with land ownership and registration. Furthermore, land laws in Ghana allow for land to be leased for up to 99 years and not outrightly sold. It is also possible for non-Ghanaians to obtain a lease for up to 50 years, which is renewable upon expiration. When purchasing property in Ghana, it is advisable to work with credible and result-oriented real estate companies who can guide you through the entire process. These companies are familiar with the intricacies of the land registration and property ownership processes, and can help ensure a smooth transaction.
Navigating the Nigerian Real Estate Market
Nigeria is a country with a rich cultural heritage and a booming economy, with a population of over 200 million people. With a burgeoning population comes a growing demand for real estate, making it an attractive market for foreign investors. However, investing in Nigerian real estate as a foreigner requires some understanding of the legal and regulatory framework governing land ownership and property transactions in the country.
The Nigerian real estate market is regulated by the Land Use Act, which gives the Governor of each State in the Federation the power to allocate land for residential, agricultural, commercial, and other purposes to individuals and organizations resident within the State. The Act also specifies that all land in Nigeria (excluding land vested in the Federal Government or its agencies) is held in the custody of the Governor of the State. Thus, anyone, including Nigerian citizens, who wishes to acquire land in Nigeria must obtain an allocation of a portion of land from the Government through a certificate of occupancy (C of O), which vests ownership of land or property.
Nigeria operates a leasehold system, where the government owns the land and leases it back to individuals for a period of 99 years. For foreign investors seeking to acquire property in Nigeria, the Acquisition of Land by Alien Laws (ALAL) regulates land ownership. Under the ALAL, a foreigner, whether as an individual or a foreign-owned entity, can own property in Nigeria provided they obtain approval from the Governor. However, the approval of the Governor is not required in a land transaction where the interest or right to be acquired is for a period of less than three years.
It is crucial for foreign investors to understand the definition of an “alien” under Section 8 of the ALAL, an “alien” is:
1. Any person other than a citizen of Nigeria;
2. Any company or association or body of persons corporate or unincorporated other than;
i. A body corporate (in which the majority of the shares are held by natives of Nigeria) established specifically by or under any Act or Law which empowers that body to acquire and hold land;
ii. A corporate body incorporated under the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act- Part C-Incorporated Trustees or any other Act or Law containing general provisions for incorporation where the corporate body is composed solely of natives of Nigeria;
iii. A corporate body established under any Law of the State relating to local government or education and empowered by that Law to acquire and hold land;
iv. A co-operative society, the majority of the members of which are natives of Nigeria and which is registered under the provisions of any Law of the State relating to cooperative society;
v. A company or association or body of persons corporate or unincorporated which the Governor may by an order made under section 6(2) declare to be exempt from the provisions of this law”.
Once you have a better understanding of the legal framework regulating land ownership and property transactions, you can follow these steps to acquire property in Nigeria as a foreign investor:
Hire a competent lawyer or legal team: As a foreigner, it is essential to engage the services of a lawyer or legal team with experience in legal and property transactions in Nigeria. They can help you navigate the legal framework and ensure that all necessary documentation is in place.
Investigate the seller and the property: Engage the services of a surveyor to ensure that you are dealing with the actual owner(s) of the property and that the physical surroundings of the property meet your expectations.
Ensure proper documentation of the land transaction: Ensure that all necessary documentation, including the Certificate of Occupancy, is obtained and verified. This is crucial to avoid disputes and ownership issues in the future.
Understand the financing options: Financing options for foreign investors may differ from those available to local investors. It is, therefore, essential to research the available financing options and the associated costs.
Be aware of local customs and traditions: Nigeria is a culturally diverse country, and it is important to be aware of local customs and traditions when conducting business transactions.
In conclusion, buying property in Ghana or Nigeria can be a cumbersome process due to the complex nature of land ownership and property registration processes. Indeed, investing in these emerging markets as a foreigner requires a good understanding of the legal and regulatory framework governing land ownership and property transactions. However, with the right knowledge and guidance, it is possible to navigate these processes and invest in these rapidly growing real estate markets with great success. Always remember to conduct a thorough investigation with each property you wish to buy and seek professional and legal advice before making any land purchase. With the help of reputable real estate companies like Seso Global and its partners, you can make a safe and profitable investment in Ghanaian and Nigerian real estate.
Kweku Essien serves as Chief Commercial Officer for Seso Global. Seso Global is Africa’s Trusted Property Marketplace that makes it easy to search, finance and purchase vetted real estate in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa currently. Learn more at www.seso.global