How to avoid scams when buying land in Kenya

In light of what happened in Mavoko, buying land is a significant investment and it’s important to be well informed to ensure you make a safe purchase.

So let’s look at the general process of buying land in Kenya and how to protect yourself from potential scams.

IDENTIFY THE LAND OF YOUR CHOICE

The first step you will need to do is to identify the land you want to buy and your interests in mind.
Is it residential, commercial or for industrial and agricultural purposes?

DO A SEARCH AT THE LAND REGISTRY
The most important step in the due diligence process is doing a search. For a land search, you will need to secure a copy of the title deed of the land you intend to buy, a copy of the identity card and a copy of the KRA PIN of the seller. You can either do this online or proceed to the Land Registry of the area where the land is located, and request a search application form in which you will fill in the details and attach copies of the three documents.

CONFIRM ANY UNPAID LAND RATES
The next step is to ensure that there are no unpaid rates on the land you want to buy. You do this by making a search at the county office where the land is located after paying a search fee.

GET THE LAND MAP
The next step should be to obtain a map of the land. Obtain at least two maps of the property from the Land Registry or a local surveyor. One of the maps should be drawn to scale and show the exact dimensions of the land or mutation, while the other should give an overview of the land and its adjoining properties.

You will then go to the actual location of the land to authenticate everything on the map and if everything checks out, you can proceed to erect the beacons.

LAND VERIFICATION & SALE AGREEMENT

The buyer and seller can now get down to the business of drawing up a sale agreement, which is done by a lawyer. A sale agreement basically covers all the factors that will guide you through this process, which includes; price, method of payment and the terms of payment. This is important because it will protect you legally if either party fails to honour their part of the agreement.

After this, you can obtain clearance from the Land Control Board, mainly for the sake of transparency.

LAND VALUATION
Once the Land Control Board gives the go-ahead, you must apply to the Land Registry where the land is located for a land valuation and the Land Registry will calculate the stamp duty payable, which is often based on the value of the land and its location.

You then apply for the transfer of the land. The buyer and seller both sign the necessary transfer forms and the seller must physically go to the Land Registry to complete the transfer. At this stage, the seller will have received the new title deed showing that ownership has been transferred and the old title deed has been destroyed.

Once this is done, you can carry out a search at the Land Registry to confirm that the land has actually been transferred to you and you are essentially a legal landowner.

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