PRACTICAL STEPS TO BUYING LAND IN GHANA
Buying land – referring to either undeveloped land or lands with buildings – in Ghana is a huge investment. For this reason, buyers need to conduct due diligence before purchasing any block of land. People have invested in parcels of land which have led to litigation, loss of investments, and in some instances loss of lives.
This post is based on an interview with Land and Property Consultant, Kwame Ankapong Yeboah, who provided some insightful and practical recommendations for buying a parcel of land in Ghana.
Checking and verifying ownership of the property you intend to acquire is very important and cannot be over-emphasized. It is also crucial to investigate the zoning status (that is, the authorized uses, which may include residential, commercial or industrial uses.) of the land. These investigations are important to avoid similar unpleasant experiences others may have had to go through in the past because they failed to perform the necessary due diligence before paying for lands. These checks can be done by the individual acquiring the property or by a professional on their behalf.
If you intend to buy a particular parcel of land, demand a site plan of the said land from the seller/owner. This is needed to aid you to do all due diligence. The site plan is more or less the unique fingerprint of the land. This site plan can be validated by a licensed surveyor to conform with the location on the ground. There have been instances where apparent owners/sellers of some land, located in say Adenta, gave a site plan which when interpreted showed land located in a different location, say in Achimota. The Lands Commission can confirm the location for you.
The Lands Commission is designed to be the largest repository of land information among others in Ghana. It is therefore imperative that you do your checks to verify ownership at the Lands Commission.
The Lands Commission requires two copies of the site plan to conduct a search. This service provided by the Lands Commission takes can take a long time so the prospective buyer is advised to continually and persistently follow up to obtain results in good time to take a decision on the intended purchase.
It is always advised that one does not rely solely on the search report from the Lands Commission as this may be misleading. This may be because there may have been transactions which have occurred that the Lands Commission may not be privy to, thus its records may not reflect such transactions.
Beyond the search at the Lands Commission, it is prudent to go further to investigate the true ownership of the land one intends to purchase. Meet and talk to neighbours or other owners in the neighbourhood. These people may have more information about the subject property such as pending court litigation which may not be revealed by the Lands Commission search. The prospective buyer can go from door-to-door to get this additional information on the property.
It is important to do checks from the Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assembly (MMDA) under whose jurisdiction the parcel of land falls to check on the zoning status. The land may be demarcated for a particular purpose which may not be what you intend to use it for. This can affect your ability to obtain a development permit.
With all these steps taken, if you are satisfied with all information available, as a prospective buyer, It is also important to demand some form of identification from the seller. If the seller is genuine, they should willingly show their ID to you.
The next step is to sit with the seller to draft the contract or agreement that transfers the property to you as well as making payments for the property. It is very important to seek legal and professional advice at this point to avoid any future contractual issues.
The documents, commonly referred to as indenture, are then signed and the necessary payments made for the property to change hands. The registration and transfer process commences once you have presented these documents to the Lands Commission.
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