Very often in real estate dealings, dispute arises between buyers and sellers right from the Bargaining stage till the close of transaction. This is because, in real estate transaction, a significant amount of money is usually involved which evidence transfer of title, hence, failure to avoid or resolve these disputes can put an end to the land transaction arrangement.
However, there are several disputes that can lead to the end of a prospective transaction. Below are some of these possible and emerging disputes:
DISPUTES THAT THREATENS A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION
One major factor leading to land dispute in Nigeria is the problem of defective title documents or an absence of same. A defect as to the title document can threaten the whole land transaction. For example, an inaccurate measurement and coordinate reflecting on a survey plan or an encumbered pillar number can ignite a dispute between the buyer and the seller. Moreover, In the case of a deed of assignment, an inaccurate information supplied to the draughtsman or an unregistered or fake registered deed of assignment may also cause looming dispute between parties in the event that the purchaser finds out of Vendor’s gimmicks.
Another reason for disputes between buyers and sellers is the failure to disclose defects or material fact that may have affected the buyer’s decision to purchase the property or the price to pay. For example, a buyer might not be aware that the land he or she is about to purchase is pending litigation in court or belongs to a minor but vested in the guardian until he /she attains majority.
Several properties belonging to dead relations are being purchased without recourse to the beneficiary of the estate where there is a Will or the principal members of the family where it’s a family land through customary inheritance especially family land belonging to survivors in a polygamous marriage setting. It is a usual occurrence that some members of the family who could be beyond the shores of the country are not aware of the sale of the family property, and of course, the sale of such can be challenged and set aside upon proof of facts. It may be more terrible when there exists a structure on the property which cannot be movable.
Another trivial concern is the issue of agency and commission fee in property transactions which is another common problem facing the real estate transaction. In selling, buying or leasing out a property, one usually requires the services of an agent. Most agents in Nigeria often asked the buyer to register for a certain fee and pay what is referred to as “mobilization fee”. The essence of this mobilization fee is to help them move around in search of the property a buyer needs.
It also serves as compensation for the time and effort imputed into serving the client, in the event that the buyer no longer patronizes the agent. This fee is not inclusive to the commission the agent gets when a transaction is finalized and money is paid. This arrangement has caused dispute and confusion between the buyer and the seller (agent) because most agents now see those payments (registration and mobilization fee) as an income for which they barely do an appropriate property search to legitimize its collection.
Another common problem that threatens real estate transactions is the disputes between real estate agents and the buyer. It is a common knowledge that real estate agents are paid based on a commission from the sales they make, thus their only incentive is to move for a sale for their own interests. Because of this, sometimes a buyer even seller may believe that an agent is not acting in his or her best interest and is only interested in making the sale because of the commission on the property.
In some situations, the disputes that threaten a real estate transaction may not be between the buyer and seller but rather between multiple buyers. For example: In a situation where a single property was fraudulently sold to three different buyers. In this case, there is always a dispute as to which party has possessory right and ownership of the property.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT THESE DISPUTES?
One way to prevent problems from arising is to hire the right real estate agent. A common concern for property buyers is that the agent does not act in the buyer’s best interest. Real estate agents typically owe a fiduciary duty to their clients to act in their best interest, it is, therefore, the responsibility of a buyer and seller to make a diligent search for an agent before retaining his or her services.
The agent should have a clear understanding that he or she is to act in good faith in the cause of serving the buyer, like disclosing to the buyer, problems that may arise on the property in future, if the property which the buyer intends to buy is a subject of litigation in court e.t.c. Good Real Estate Agents are often required to disclose material facts and defects that may arise in the cause of the property transaction.
A good communication between the parties of a property transaction can also help prevent problems from arising. Either directly or indirectly through a third party (agent), communication can help the parties avoid having their expectations unmet. With a good communication system, each party to the transaction has an idea of what to expect, the terms and conditions of the purchase etc.
Lastly, hire a Real Estate Lawyer. Many real estate transactions are not routine and require the assistance of a real estate lawyer. A real estate lawyer can prepare a purchase contract or review an existing contract to explain the buyer or to the seller his or her rights and duties. A lawyer mere taking an eagle eye to get a document or title document on the face value could possibly detect a defective which may pose a looming danger.
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