Your seven step guide to buying genuine land

It is always a good idea to carry out due diligence on the property you are interested in buying, even if you are sure you are buying from a genuine owner. Below is a 7 step guide towards confirming the land you are buying is totally genuine:

  • Conduct a title search 

Ask the owner to give you a copy of  the lands title deed and use it to conduct a search at the ministry of Land offices to determine who the real owner is. The search document will indicate in the encumbrance section whether other institutions such as banks also have a claim to the land. This helps you avoid buying land which the owner has used to acquire a loan, for instance.

  • Check land rates payment

Another due diligence process that people might overlook is finding out how much money the county government claims on a piece of land. Some land owners, do not pay yearly land rates, thus accruing hefty penalties.An unsuspecting buyer might buy a piece of land for, say, 5 million, only to realize that the county government has a claim of sh 3 million on it in the form of rates.

  • Get a survey map

According to the valuer, confirming that a specific piece of land actually exists on the area’s survey map is even more important than conducting a title search. This is because while fraudsters easily forge title search results, survey maps are hard to tamper with.

  • Visit the property

Seeing is believing, the saying goes. After getting the survey map, go with it to the property site and use it to trace the specific piece of land.

  • Get consent from the  district land control board

For a land transaction to be completed, it must get a nod from the district land control board. The boards usually sit once a month, and gives consent to indicate that both the buyer and the seller are trading the property in good faith.

  • Sign a sale agreement

Never pay any money based on a verbal promise. Involve either a lawyer or a due diligence company and draft a sale agreement that spells out the terms of the transaction.

  • Trust your gut feeling

It might not have a scientific basis but  when it comes to buying land,  one’s gut feeling is almost always right.

(This article first appeared in the Daily Nation)

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