These are basic steps that you should follow in buying land in Kenya. Hiring a lawyer is important, but there are things you need to do by yourself first. This will reduce your legal fees greatly, and make your transaction time less.
The procedure of buying land is as follows:
- Identification: There are various ways to identify land for purchase, ranging from the most primitive to engaging a real estate agent to carry out the land search for you. The most important thing is to be clear on what you want, before starting the search for land. There are different kinds of properties; residential, controlled development, commercial etc. The land you buy should be aligned to your other investment objectives. It’s also important to do some basic due diligence about the property, for example by consulting the neighbors e.g to find out if the area floods during the rainy season. Please note that experts advise that the rainy season is the best time to identify land.
- Conducting a search: Once you have identified your target property, ask the seller for a copy of the title deed, which will help you conduct a search on the property. This will help you be required to file a search application form, attached to a copy of the title deed, and pay a fee at the Land Registry which is at (Ardhi House) Nairobi. This process takes 2-3 days, after which you should be able to get the following information about the land:
- the registered owner of the property
- it’s size
- any encumbrances against the land such as court orders, loans taken against it etc.
- Sale Agreement: This is the point which you appoint a lawyer, to help draft a sale agreement. Lawyers often have standard sale agreements, but it’s important to make sure it’s suited to the circumstances of the transaction before signing. The standard agreements stipulate a 90 day completion period for the transaction. The sale agreement should be stamped and stamp duty paid to be be admissible in court, ensure that your lawyer gets it stamped in case of any dispute arises in future.
- Land Transfer: Once the transaction has been finalized, the buyer’s advocate prepares a transfer, which is signed by the seller and his advocate. Both parties have to provide documentation such as ID, PIN certificate, the original title deed, land rent/rates clearance certificate, the land valuation and passport sized photographs.
- Stamping and registration formalities: Once the transfer has taken place the purchaser will be required to conduct a valuation of the property, register it and pay rates and rent on it.