13 Commonly used terms when purchasing properties in Nigeria

Buying properties in nIgeria is hard enough, then there are the terms that make it sound almost like

The agreement: Also called the Agreement for Sale and Purchase

This is the written contract for the sale and purchase of the property between the vendor (seller) and the purchaser (buyer). Never sign this without discussing it with your lawyer.


This is a method of selling a property where the vendor, either privately or through a real estate agent, invites all prospective purchasers to meet on one specific day to bid to purchase the property in a public auction process. Usually, the vendor will set a reserve price below which they will refuse to sell the property, but if the top bid is over that reserve, the property will sell. The auction process can be stressful for both the vendor and purchaser.

Back-up offer

A second offer is accepted by the vendor when the vendor already has an existing contract that is conditional on certain conditions being satisfied. If the conditions in the first offer are not satisfied for any reason by a particular date and time, the backup offer becomes the contract with the vendor. These arrangements can create pressure for both vendor and purchaser.


These are the movable objects found in a house or elsewhere on the property that is included in the sale. Commonly they include the stove, television aerial, carpets, blinds, curtains, drapes, and light fittings.
However, they may also include dishwashers, refrigerators, heaters, etc. It is important that all chattels are specifically listed in the Agreement for Sale and Purchase.


This is a fee (flat fee or percentage of the sale price) paid by the seller of a property to the real estate agent responsible for arranging the sale.

Conditional agreement

This is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller, subject to certain conditions being satisfied. Examples of these are:

The purchaser arranges suitable finance to complete the purchase;

Receipt of a satisfactory builder’s report or valuer’s report;

The purchaser’s solicitor approves the title to the property.

Distress Sales

Other conditions may also require the seller to do something by a certain date. Once all the conditions are satisfied the agreement becomes unconditional. Whether you are a buyer or seller, it is important to get legal advice to ensure that any required conditions are expressed clearly in the agreement.


This type of ownership is common where there is more than one dwelling on a single site. A plan attached to the cross lease title shows the outline of any buildings on the land (called a ‘flats plan’). The owners of each dwelling co-own the land and each leases their own building/s. The terms of the leases generally provide for the owners to have exclusive rights over certain parts of the site. This is a complex form of property ownership and it is very important that a property lawyer is involved when buying or selling a cross-lease title.


Part of the purchase price (usually 10%) is paid by the purchaser when the agreement is signed or when confirmation is received that all conditions have been satisfied.


This is the amount of the property‘s value that you actually own. It is the difference between the value of your property and how much you owe on it. The value is usually represented by its current market value.

Land covenants

Many subdivisions now have a covenant or obligation registered on the title, limiting the type of structure (including fences) that the owner can build, or limiting certain activities being carried out on the property. These should be thoroughly checked with your property lawyer prior to signing any agreement.


The Certificate of Title is a legal description of a property and provides proof of legal ownership of property.

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