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Is it okay to apply with more than one mortgage lender at the same time?

U.S. mortgage rates reversed course this week, after a downward trend, according to Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 4.41 percent for the week ending March 7, up from 4.35 percent the previous week. A year ago, mortgage rates stood at 4.46 percent.

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Low mortgage rates help propel U.S. home sales and the refinance market.

“While mortgage rates very modestly rose to 4.41 percent this week, they remain below year-ago levels for the fourth week in a row,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “In late 2018, mortgage rates rose over a full percentage point from the prior year, which was one of the main reasons that weakness in home sales continued into early 2019. However, the impact of recent lower rates and a strong labor market has led to a rise in purchase mortgage demand as we start the spring homebuying season.”

 

Favorable rates also have been helping Dayton-area home sales.

Local home sales began 2019 on a strong note with a 5 percent uptick in January transactions, according to Dayton Realtors.

The historic low for 30-year rates was 3.31 percent in November 2012.

Is it okay to apply with more than one mortgage lender at the same time?

Two-timing your mortgage lender?
When shopping for a mortgage, you’ll compare mortgage rates, select a provider and start your application. But should you apply with more than one mortgage lender? There are several reasons that it might make sense to do so:

To make sure that you can secure at least one mortgage approval
You want to have a couple of offers to get the best mortgage rate
You may discover that you don’t like your lender
Here’s more about the pros, cons and ethics of applying with more than one mortgage lender.

Why you should apply with more than one mortgage lender
Okay, you should shop for mortgage financing because you don’t want to leave money on the table – especially your money. Got it. But there are other reasons to scour the market for the best deals.

Will you be approved?
Different lenders have different standards. You might not qualify with Acme Mortgage – but you may qualify with AAA Home Loans. Not all mortgage applications succeed. According to Ellie Mae’s January 2019 Origination Insights report, “Closing rates for all loans increased to 75.0 in January. Refinance closing rates increased to 69.5 percent in January, while purchase closing rates increased to 78.1 percent in January.”

At first, it may seem odd that you can get approved by some lenders but not by others. After all, isn’t a VA loan from one lender the same as another? And the same with FHA financing and conforming mortgages that must meet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards?

Related: Turned down for a mortgage? Here’s what to do next

In each case, the basic loan requirements are the same, but lenders may impose additional qualification requirements. They call these added requirements overlays. And they are very common.

The VA, for example, explains that it has “no minimum credit score requirement. Instead, VA requires a lender to review the entire loan profile.” While the VA does not have a credit score requirement, a lender who offers VA financing might. One lender may accept VA borrowers with a 640 credit score while another requires 660.

The right program
If you’re concerned about mortgage approval because of your credit rating or debt-to-income ratio, you may gravitate toward FHA financing. FHA home loan programs are known to be more flexible. However, the mortgage insurance for these loans can be considerably more expensive than that required for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage.

You may, in that case, want to apply for both programs. if you get the Fannie Mae loan, and it turns out to be less expensive, congratulations. And if not, you still have the FHA loan to fall back on. Kind of like college applicants going after their dream school but also applying to a “safety school” in case they don’t get into their preferred institution.

What about the best rate?
Everyone wants to get the best mortgage rate and terms. That said, a little caution is in order.

The “best rate” depends on a lot of factors. The best rate for Ms. Green may be different from the best rate for Mr. Johnson. This can happen because Ms. Green has a better credit score, is putting more down, has bigger savings and is financing with a fixed-rate loan instead of an ARM. In addition, mortgage rates are always in flux; they change constantly.

Mortgage shoppers need to look for a lender who can deliver the best rate available for the borrower at the time of application. You can’t know the best available rate without checking among several lenders.

What about costs?
In addition to an interest rate, you need to look at loan costs. Some lenders simply charge more or less than others, even when rates are identical. Check the annual percentage rate (APR) on the official Loan Estimate form to compare lender costs.

Float or lock?
Some borrowers prefer to lock-in a rate because they know such interest pricing will be available to them at closing. Others prefer to let rates float, to get whatever’s available at closing.

There are several alternatives.

First, lock with one lender and float with another.

Second, speak with several lenders and lock rate offers that have a “float down” feature. This generally means that if the rate falls at least .125 percent or .25 percent before closing you can get the lower rate. Make sure you know the details of the float down arrangement, they can differ among lenders.

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Is it unfair to shop around?
It is sometimes argued that by shopping around you are forcing loan officers to work for free. The opportunity to present a mortgage offer is how lenders make their money, it’s a risk that comes with the business. Alternatively, if you HAD to accept the first mortgage offer you got, you might well get a bad rate and terms.

However, making two lenders do all the work associated with loan origination and then finally choosing one at closing time is not usually worth doing.

For one thing, you’d have to pay for two appraisals, two credit reports, and perhaps other fees. And it will likely make you feel uneasy because there’s a big difference between getting pre-qualified with a lender, which may take a few minutes, and making them go through an entire origination over several weeks for free.

When to shop
If you want to shop among mortgage lenders, ask each to send an official Loan Estimate form for your consideration. This standard form shows what the lender is offering and can be compared with other offers. You are not required to accept an offer – but realize that if you let a good offer pass, it may not be available again.

Alternatively, you can have a broker shop for you. Retail loan officers work for one lender, while mortgage brokers look for financing among many lenders. For some borrowers, the lending process may be made faster and more understandable by working with a mortgage broker, someone familiar with the marketplace and how it works.

If you’re going to check with several mortgage sources, it makes sense to include a mortgage broker in the mix.

Number of mortgage loans in Kazakhstan increased 19 percent in 2018

ASTANA – The number of home loans issued in Kazakhstan grew 18.9 percent in 2018 over 2017. The total portfolio of loans issued grew by 3 percent in the same time period.

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The mortgage loans grew 1.8 percent and reached 1.3 trillion tenge (US$3.44 billion) in just December 2018, according to a report by ranking.kz. In December 2018, Astana and Almaty saw 25.5 percent and 26 percent growth respectively. More rural areas saw growth of approximately 3 percent. The Kostanai Region had a 5.8 percent increase (40.6 billion tenge or US$107.31 million), the Aktobe Region had 3.3 percent (to 73.7 billion tenge or US $194.8 million) and the West Kazakhstan Region had 3 percent (44.9 billion tenge or US$118.68 million).

The Zhilstroysberbank (House Construction Savings Bank) of Kazakhstan (HCSBK) remains the biggest issuer of the loans for the purchase of housing in the system of housing savings. The share of financial institution loans from the country’s mortgage portfolio was 51.4 percent in 2018 against 42.4 percent in 2017.

In response to a high demand for bank services in the West Kazakhstan Region, the HCSBK opened a new branch in Uralsk in December. To date, 68,600 residents of the region, that is, every tenth citizen, are saving up for future housing. The amount of savings has already reached 34.6 billion tenge (US$91.45 million). The branch issued 11,700 loans (59 billion tenge or 155.94 million).

Since the launch of Nurly Zher state programme in the end of 2016, in the West Kazakhstan Region, 1,200 apartments were sold for approximately 10 billion tenge (US$26.43 million). In 2018, 480 apartments for 3.7 billion tenge (US$9.78 million) were sold. This year, the state programme plans to commission another 1,100 apartments with a total area of ​​62,400 square metres.

In addition, the commissioned volume of housing in square metres has been growing steadily year by year and reached 12.5 million square metres in 2018, against 11.2 million square metres in 2017.

Nigeria: Pertinent Questions On Legal Title Of Real Estate Development Under The Private Public Partnership In Nigeria

Like in other developing Countries, in Nigeria, there are instances where the government at the Federal, State or even Local may partner with private entities who have the expertise and finances under the Private Public Partnership (“PPP”) for the purpose of developing public infrastructure or a specialized project on behalf of the government. This is achieved through agreement between the government and the private entity which details the rights and obligations of the parties.

The common type of PPP agreement for real estate development is a Development Lease Agreement (“DLA”). Under DLA, the government grants the private entity the right to develop a real estate for a stipulated period with a provision for the developer to nominate purchasers of portions of the real estate for issuance of a Certificate of Statutory Occupancy (“C of O”). We shall address pertinent questions on legal title which may arise from a DLA.

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How does a DLA for real estate development work?
Usually, the government grants a lease over an expanse of land to a private developer (“the developer”) for a stipulated period with an option to renew. This means the developer is to develop the land within the stipulated period and its lease over the land will expire at the end of the period and all its infrastructural improvements on the land will revert to the government.

Under the DLA, it is the responsibility of the government to issue the C of O to any person who the developer nominate to have rights over development on the land within the stipulated period in the DLA. This means the developer’s right to nominate persons for issuance of C of O will expire at the end of the stipulated period.

The DLA does not envisage the developer assigning the remainder of its interest on the land under the DLA to purchasers but to develop the land and nominate persons to the government who shall issue C of O to purchasers for the usual number of years for grant of fresh allocations. For the purpose of the DLA, the developer does not have legal title over the land but a development lease over the land for the stipulated period.

Legal title on the land is vested in the governement from the commencement of the DLA till its expiration. Under the DLA, the developer is a partner of the government to develop the land on behalf of the government. The developer’s gain under the DLA is the development and sale of housing units on the land throughout the stipulated period.

Why would the government grant lease for a number of years to purchasers nominated by the developer which exceeds the stipulated period of the developer’s development lease? This is a massive contradiction and guarantees future problems.
The developer’s lease is for development of the land and nomination of purchasers purposes only. The government only granted a development lease to the developer over the land and not an outright title on the land. Legal title on the land is still vested in the government throughout the stipulated period in the DLA and afterwards. Therefore, the government has the liberty to grant lease to purchasers over and above the stipulated period of the development lease in the DLA.

Is the government legally justified to grant higher number years of lease to purchasers more than the stipulated period for the development lease in the DLA? The government may revoked the C of O once it discovers this discrepancy.
The government did not by the DLA, grant legal title to the developer over the land for the stipulated period. The government only granted a development lease to the developer. The government is merely using the technical and finances of the developer to develop the land. Legal title to the land remains with the government. Thus, the government is legally justified to grant higher number of years of lease to purchasers more than the stipulated period for the development lease in the DLA.

There is no guarantee that current or future government is bound to issue any C of O in contradiction to DLA. It is actually illegal.
All lands in Nigeria is vested in the relevant government. It is usual for the government to grant a specific term for fresh allocation. Purchasers nominated under the DLA are fresh allotees and the government is contractually bound to issue a C of O to them for the customary term for fresh allocation. Hence the issuance of C of Os for the purchasers for the customary term cannot be said to be illegal.

The DLA envisages that the purchasers will hand over the property to the government upon expiration of the stipulated time in the DLA.
It is the developers’ development such as roads, electricity, drainages, sewages and other infrastructure improvements on the land that will revert to the government at the expiration of the stipulated period in the DLA and not the title of purchasers duly nominated to the Minister under the DLA.

Would different owners of a property, for instance where different persons own each floor of the property, be issued their respective C of O for the floor they own?
The developer may make arrangement with the government for issuance of C of O to the respective owners of different portions of a single property.

However, if this is not possible, the developer may furnish the respective owners with the Global C of O of the entire property and a duly executed Deed of Sublease showing the portion of the property in which they own.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

I will provide details of corrupt contractors – Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has written to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) promising “to refer the request for details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects to the Ministry’s agencies for necessary action and appropriate response.”

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Fashola’s latest response followed his letter to SERAP last month in which he said: “We have searched the Ministry’s record and the information you applied for is not held by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power Sector).”

However, SERAP disagreed with the response, saying: “The public expectation is that government information, when in the hands of any public institutions and agencies, should be available to the public, as prescribed by the FOI Act. The FOI Act should always be used as an authority for disclosing information rather than withholding it.”

In his response to SERAP’s reaction, Fashola said: “The Ministry’s letter to your organization was not an attempt to deny the request for information. The Ministry is committed to compliance with the Laws of Nigeria including the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. The Ministry will refer your request to its agencies for necessary action and appropriate response.”

Fashola’s letter dated 4th March, 2019 and signed on his behalf by Louis O.N. Edozien, Permanent Secretary (Power) read in part: I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 8th February 2019 which is in response to the Ministry’s letter dated January 2019.”

“There may be instances of part-payment against certification of commensurate value for materials and services in achieved contract milestone even though the entire contract is not 100% performed.”

“But the Ministry does not have a record of any contractors that collected 100% payment and failed to execute a contract. The Ministry’s procurement and contract administration processes are strictly guided by relevant regulations that require the Ministry to ensure Advanced Payment is limited to 15% of the contract sum and is backed by an Advanced Payment Bank Guarantee (APG).”

“Our regulations also require the Ministry to release any APG only after recovery of commensurate value of contracted materials and services from the contractors who provided the APG. We make payments only upon certification of receipt of commensurate value for materials and services from the contractor.”

SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “We welcome Fashola’s latest response, and look forward to the Ministry’s agencies getting to the root of the matter by publishing without further delay details of alleged corrupt contractors and companies, as contained in our FOI request.”

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It would be recalled that Fashola had earlier said in response to SERAP’s FOI request that: “the Ministry has searched for the requested information on details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects, but we could not find it from our records.”

Fashola’s initial response followed SERAP’s FOI request and suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 filed last month at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. The suit is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Fashola to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

SERAP’s reaction to which Fashola has now responded read in part: “Indiscriminate attempts to limit disclosure of information of public interest such as the details of the names of alleged corrupt contractors and companies that SERAP is seeking, will undermine the government’s expressed commitment to transparency and accountability.”

“We believe that the predisposition by all public institutions and agencies including the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing should be to grant access to public information and not to implicitly deny it. Indeed, disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of the FOI Act. This objective would be defeated if there is public perception that public institutions and agencies attempt to shield information of public interest from disclosure or abdicate statutory responsibilities.”

“Although we have filed a case in court for remedial action and seeking an order to compel you and your Ministry to release the information requested, we urge you to take proactive steps to obtain the information from any other public institution or agency that may be holding the requested information, and to send to us the information without further delay. Your Ministry should not wait until the court makes it decision to compel you to disclose the requested information.”

“SERAP believes that it should be the practice of your Ministry and indeed other public institutions and agencies to hold and keep records of public information including on names of alleged corrupt contractors and companies with the expectation to release any such information when requested.”

“SERAP believes that even assuming that your Ministry has faithfully searched for the information requested and that the information is not held by your Ministry as claimed, your Ministry should still have taken steps to approach and request from other public institution or institutions that may be holding the requested information, in line with the provisions of the FOI Act.”

“SERAP believes that your response implicitly amounts to a refusal by your Ministry to provide the information requested, as allowed under the FOI Act.”

“We note that your Ministry has a responsibility under Sections 1(1)(2), 2(2)(3)(4), 5 and 9 of the FOI Act to record and keep information about all its activities, operations and businesses, including on the specific names and details of alleged corrupt contractors and companies in order to facilitate public access to any such information.”

National Housing Bank plans stronger capital norm for housing finance companies

The draft amendments has proposed raising the CAR to 15% in a staggered manner by March 2022, while suggested a higher cap on borrowing.
KOLKATA: National Housing Bank (NHB) is planning to raise long term capital requirement for housing finance companies (HFCs) to guard against their liquidity and solvency risks.

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The housing regulator has proposed to raise their capital adequacy ratio to 13% by March 2020 from 12% now as a fallout of the IL&FS-led crisis which forced several specialised home loan lenders, especially the smaller one, to slow down business to preserve liquidity.
The draft amendments has proposed raising the CAR to 15% in a staggered manner by March 2022, while suggested a higher cap on borrowing.

“HFCs are exposed to risks arising out of counterparty failures, funding risks and risks pertaining to liquidity and solvency as any other financial sector player. There is thus a need for a review of the regulatory framework of HFCs,’ NHB said in a note to stakeholders.

Most of the bigger HFCs carry sufficient capital to meet the proposed norm, experts tracking the sector said.

NHB has sought comments on the proposals by March 31.
The regulator also wanted to reduce borrowing limits for HFCs in graded way. It proposed the cap on borrowing at 14 time of net-owned fund by March 2020, 13 time of NOF by March 2021 and 12 times by March 2022.

“This was not unexpected following the IL&FS crisis. The regulatory restriction will now shape how much leverage housing finance company or NBFCs can take. This may impact smaller HFCs or those with high leverage ratio,” HDFCNSE 0.20 % chief executive officer Keki Mistry told ET.

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He however said that HDFC would not be impacted for the next seven/eight years the the nation’s largest housing finance company has about 19% CAR and as far as leveraging is concerned, its debt-equity ratio was 4.7 times as on December.

“Most of the HFCs would be able to meet the revised norms on CRAR, as most of the HFCs which are nearing 15-16% CRAR and would have adequate cushion to raise Tier II capital and shore up the CRAR, if required.” said Supreeta Nijjar, ICRA’s head for financial sector ratings.
“Also, the capital adequacy for HFCs is supported by the lower risk weights on smaller ticket size home loans which is the growth area for most HFCs,” she said.

Expect a 15% growth in housing loan disbursements

The yields have gone up as compared to last year and this has also translated into a good growth in our net interest income also, said Vinay Shah, MD & CEO, LIC HousingNSE 1.15 %, in an interview with ET Now.

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Edited excerpts:

Given the heightened liquidity concerns over the past couple of months, how do you assess the entire situation vis-à-vis what we saw in October?
The liquidity position as compared to October-November has eased quite a lot. We are finding that it has eased both in the short tenure as well as longer tenures funds. But in October also, getting money was not a problem for our company as being a AAA rated company we are getting money though at slightly higher rates. Now it has eased substantially. Every year during the second fortnight of March, there is some tightening because of advance tax payments and other things but that is an annual thing. Now the position is fairly good.
Calculated spreads have also declined. What led to this decline and especially the decline that one has seen in the yields for LIC Housing Finance?

On the contrary our spreads have been stable. Last year starting April onwards till the 1st of January, we increased our lending rates by 70 bps and this has been transferred to whole of our back book. About 80-85% of the book is on floating basis. We have had similar spreads and we did not have much of decline as far as the spreads go.
Can you just tell us what the outlook is on your borrowing mix change? Given the high proportion of NCDs, how do you see borrowing costs in your spreads shaping up?

Borrowing cost have gone up from last year levels. We have to see if going ahead, the rates remain stable. There has also been some benefit from the RBI repo rate decrease also. If the rates remain stable, the margins would be at the same level or they may improve also. The yields have gone up as compared to last year and this has also translated into a good growth in our net interest income also.

There has also been sharp increase in the builder loan growth despite high delinquencies. What is the rationale for this high growth given the high stress scenario in real estate?

During current year, builder growth looks very high. The main reason is that we are operating at a very small base and out of about 246 odd accounts which we are servicing, four or five accounts constitute the major chunk of the delinquent NPAs.

Secondly, the full book of our builder loan portfolio is only about 6%. In the NPAs also I see resolution coming in most of them. It may take some time in between but we are very sure that the resolutions will come. The comforting fact is that there is the underlying security that we have. Recently in Q2, we had made one recovery wherein we recovered the full principal and not only that the major part of the interest.
There has been some signs of struggling growth in home loans. When can we expect a pickup?

The real estate sector in the last two-three years has faced many challenges starting from demonetisation, RERA, GST followed by liquidity crunch in Q3. But of late, things are picking up. We expect better growth throughout the country because of two reasons – one is the lowering of the GST rates on under construction projects and the number two is the continuity of housing subsidy which the government has now extended till March 2020.

I expect a good pickup there. The market sentiment is improving and going ahead, I would still see a growth rate of around 15% in housing loan disbursements.

How mortgage system helped home ownership in Saudi Arabia

Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail: The private sector’s contribution to mortgage financing did not exceed 35 percent in the past whereas it has reached 100 percent today

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RIYADH: The second edition of the Saudi Housing Finance Conference concluded in Riyadh on Wednesday.
Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail stressed that the mortgage finance sector in the Kingdom will play a significant role in increasing the ownership rate, reaching 70 percent by 2030.


He emphasized that the mortgage finance sector is undergoing significant growth; last January, more than 9,000 housing finance contracts worth more than SR4.7 billion ($1.25 billion) were signed.
He said: “The private sector’s contribution to mortgage financing did not exceed 35 percent in the past whereas it has reached 100 percent today. We also aspire for the investments in the mortgage finance sector to reach SR60 billion this year, which will facilitate ownership, benefiting from the available financing facilities for citizens.”
He noted the policies of the housing program where 16 government agencies work together to overcome obstacles that prevent their initiatives giving citizens the ability to own houses, especially policies related to financing and housing support.

Encourage local sourcing of building materials –Experts urge FG

In order to increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product and reduce the cost of owning a house in the country, some experts in the built industry have advocated a government white paper that will encourage sourcing of building materials locally.

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According Mr. Aralu Okeke, the bane of building construction in the country is the government inability to encourage the manufacture and consumption of Nigeria made building materials. He said that because most government officials have the wherewithal to afford foreign building materials, they don’t care what the poor people suffer to get their own houses.

“The failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to encourage local content in the country’s construction industry is slowing its growth. The industry, which is a major employer of labour, has been in slow growth due to a combination of factors which the local operators blame mainly on the domination of the industry by foreign firms,”he said.

Another respondent on the issue of local building materials, Mrs. Bimpe Lawumi said that Nigeria can make the best of laws but they don’t know how to implement the laws. This she said always creates vacuum in the supervision channels. The factors that militate against the growth of industry in the country makes Nigeria a dumping ground for all half baked materials.

“These factors also include but not limited to power factor, policy factor and phobic for local goods. Government of Nigeria should in the first place encourage local content as a way of creating jobs to the teeming unemployed youths. If government policies are friendly to all these, then the drive to increase urbanization would have gotten a positive facelift but the reverse has always been the case.

“Despite the lackluster attitudes of government, the rate of urbanization in Nigeria has continued to witness tremendous increase in the last five decades. Census in the early Fifties showed that there were about 56 cities in the country and about 10.6 percent of the total population lived in these cities,”she noted.

This, she said, rose dramatically to 19.1 percent in 1963 and 24.5 percent in 1985. Today, the national population is estimated to be about 197.4 million with the urban population constituting about 60 percent. “The phenomenal rise in population, number and size of our cities over the past few years have manifested in the acute shortage of dwelling units which resulted in overcrowding, high rents, poor urban living conditions, and low infrastructure services and indeed high crime rates.

“These are indicators that there is huge market in the country and that if consumers’ needs are met, the country will be exporting like China. But this is not to be because the taste for the indigenes are not within the country but for things manufactured exotically. This problems are not only in the building materials but also in the sectors especially in the automobile industry,” she concluded.

How land speculators swindle Abuja residents

Land in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), is not only the choicest assets in the country, it is the costliest and most contested by the most powerful and most influential members of society.

While it is highly contestable, it is equally fraught with swindlers and scammers who scamper restlessly in search of who to defraud.

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Oftentimes, residents fall prey to these illegal activities and they are fleeced of their money. Although, the tricksters do not rob with dangerous weapons, most victims have died because of their activities. In view of the preponderance of land scammers in FCT, as property lawyers are feeding fat from the numerous cases in court.

According to a property lawyer and the National Co-ordinator of Peoples Rights and Justice—a human rights organisation, Mr Victor Giwa, before any buyer embarks on any land business, the first thing is to get experts. The first expert, he said, is a good lawyer, a property lawyer; the second expert is a surveyor and the third step is to take the document to the relevant agency that issued the document.

“You need to be careful. You need to be very careful. If anybody wants to buy land or any property in Abuja, the first thing is to get experts. The first expert you need is a good lawyer, a property lawyer. Not any lawyer. Some people run into problem because of what was involved in their property transaction. You should ask the lawyer if he has experience in property land transaction—-land business. You must also get some other experts like the land surveyor. But if you get a lawyer he will help you to put all these together. Then you ask for the title. The lawyer will conduct what we call ‘search’ with the necessary agency. The lawyer will tell you the way and manner you should go into the purchase of the sales of the property. It is very key that you involve an experienced and professional lawyer when you are going to enter into any land or property transaction” he said, citing cases of deaths as a result of land scammers.

“So, we have seen a lot of issues. I have seen a lot of families frustrated because of land transaction. He (victim) went to buy an AMAC land, sold to it to a person. When the person went to AMAC he discovered that the title he had was fake. As I speak to you now the family is scattered. These are the effects of fraudulent transactions as regards property. That is why we have concentrated so much on property. So, in a nutshell we have had more than 18 cases of fraudulent transactions” he disclosed.

Giwa told the story of a retiree who invested all his money in a property but discovered later that the property belonged to a catholic church. He collapsed, he said, and died before his case could commence in the court.

“A man retired some years ago. He was paid his pension allowance and all of that. He saw a good property at Garki and bought it not knowing that it belonged to a catholic church. The man was disappointed because of lack of due diligence on the land before he bought” he said.

Disclosing why he went into the business of helping those that have been defrauded of their land, he said: “Our organisation (a Non-Governmental rganisation) started with property issues because everybody who lives in Abuja is either a landlord or a tenant. And everybody lives on a property. So, it is very important that you know, especially, property in Abuja, what exactly is going on and how you are going to react on your property. So, we discovered that we are getting a lot of complaints from two major areas. One, on property and two, on transactions. So, 70 per cent of the complaints we are getting even from the courts, are from property. So, we felt that there was a need for us to concentrate on issues of property. And we also discovered that a lot of the residents of FCT are victims of frauds regarding property. Either fraud in the sense that you are buying the property or you are buying a fraudulent title or you are being defrauded as the seller. So, we started now as an NGO to concentrate on fraud in property in FCT. So, about 90 per cent of the cases so far that have been reported to the Commissioner of Police. We work with Commissioner of Police. We work with Department of State Security (DSS) and almost all the security organizations” he submitted.

A victim of land scammers, Mr Adenrenle Olubusi who bought a parcel of land from AMAC at Guzape in Abuja, said that early this year when he went to inspect the land with a view to developing it, he discovered that another man was already clearing his land. When he went to AMAC, he was told that it was a case of double allocation, which means, one of the owners should be reallocated. But the two owners did not want to give up to the another.

“When I bought my land in 2013, I conducted every due diligence and discovered it was real. But early this year when I went to develop it I saw some people clearing it. So, I contacted my lawyer who put a ‘caveat emptor’ notice on the land and invited the supposed owner for explanation” he said.

A man, Mr Okofor Afonjo whose land is also at Lokogoma lamented that after buying his land he went for study leave abroad. When he came back, he discovered that a gigantic mansion has been erected on his land.

“I bought three plots of land at Lokogoma in 2010. The title of the document was certified real by the appropriate authorities before I proceeded on leave. But after my study leave I discovered that a man is now operating a school on the land” the matter is now in court” he said.

By Isaac Anumihe

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