Due diligence entails digging deeper to understand property issues that could be a cause of conflict in the future, this may include establishing the identity of the original and the current owners, the actual size of the land and whether or not the paperwork is in order.
With the upsurge of cons in the real estate market, it is important to establish that the people selling you the land are indeed the actual owners of the property, hence the need for doing a title search.
How do you establish the actual owner of a piece of land?
Proper documentation of land in the country makes it easy to establish a trail of land ownership. A simple land search in the land office in the county government with the jurisdiction over the land can help establish:
- the legal owner of the land,
- the size of the parcel,
- the location of the land and
- whether or not the land has a caution or used as collateral for a loan
depending on where the land is located, the search can be done online but for most, however, you will need to do it from the land office. It costs Ksh 500 and can be paid using M-pesa, Credit card or with a debit card, and the title deed number will be required.
Once a land search is done on a parcel of land, the owner is notified (since his/her details are with the land registry), ensuring that the owner is aware of any activity on his/her land.
A land search will also reveal the transactions (change of ownership through deeds) and encumbrances (legal dues), and if the land is charged to any loan.
After a land search, it is also important to establish whether there are any prevailing disputes on the piece of land, which could land you in trouble. The best people to help you with such information would be the local administration (chiefs of village administrators) or even neighbors.
Who else should you include?
At some point before purchasing any piece of land, it is also important to include experts in the sector such as valuers, real estate agents, surveyors, and a lawyer.
Valuers help you understand the actual pricing to avoid buying a property that is overpriced. Also, they note when the parcel is undervalued, an indication that there could be mischief in the transaction.
Real estate agents can help you through processes that you might be too busy to perform, or sometimes negotiate the best price for you.
Surveyors make sure you are getting the right piece of land, and help you trace borders and finally placing beacons.
Any land purchase should be legally bound through a contract, and this is the work of a lawyer, who ensures conflicts are easily resolved in the future just in case they arise. The contract and transfer of land are the final and the most delicate, and the presence of a lawyer assures that you are not coned.