There are significant steps involved in purchasing land. Land buying follows the basic law of contract. Many properties or land buyers have encountered huge losses because they did not know their rights or were conned while acquiring land. While the law protects both the seller and buyer, however, most sellers tend to enjoy total control in these transactions. 

When buying land it is important to follow contractual or legal procedures to avoid any future conflict or occurring risk of loss. Before you think of purchasing land it is key to ensure that you have verified the land to avoid being scammed.  The process of buying land consists of five parties; the seller, the buyer, a lawyer, a witness and the land ministry.

Before you invest in buying land you can follow the following steps to avoid being conned/scammed:

  • Ground verification 

The first step you should take is confirming whether the land truly indeed exists, this is known as ground verification. It is your right as a land buyer to confirm if the land exists. The seller armed with a map will visit the land with you, the buyer for a survey.  Approving that the land exists assists to avoid making huge mistakes or land conflict. If you are capable of talking to the neighbourhood locals, it plays a positive role in confirming and ascertaining if they agree with the land boundaries. Verify all the details on the map of all dimensions are drawn to scale, check out all the beacons. 

It is important to note that the expenses of the ground verification are paid by the seller since he is still in possession of the land or on other occasions based on agreements, both parties share costs. 

  • Search ministry of land

Search the ministry of land to ascertain the true landowner and establish if there is the presence of brokers should the title have a caveat or has been charged. Ask to see the title deed to research the land ministry.  A search should be ready in two hours, it should cost Ksh 520 and should be no more than six months old. The search should be sealed officially by the Registrar of Lands. Make sure the same name on the title deed appears on the name of the land’s ministry. 

  • Land rates

A land buyer needs to confirm with the county governments whether there are any unpaid land rates on the land. If there are any prevailing land rates you should agree with the seller on who will clear the debt and period (when exactly). The land cannot be sold or transferred if there are unpaid rates. 

  • Sale agreement

It is advisable to hire the services of a lawyer to help draft an agreement. The law requires all land transactions to be in writing. According to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), if the value of the land is below Ksh 1 million you will be required to pay the lawyer Ksh 3,000 and if the value does exceed Ksh 1 million you will Ksh 8,000 for the agreement. Both the buyer and seller will be required to sign the agreement. It is significant to ensure that the spouse to the seller is present or aware of the transactions to avoid future complications. 

Make sure that the information in the agreement coincides with the ones at the land’s ministry.

  • Land control board 

Land control boards meet once in a month, you can book an appointment. They give consent for the land to be sold and protect the seller from self-destruction. This involves a situation if the land sold belongs to the community or the land is sold without the agreement of the spouse. LCB will cost Ksh 1,000. 

However, there is a special LCB meeting which you can book at Ksh 5,000.

  • Secure transfer documents 

This occurs when the seller signs the land transfer forms after the buyer pay the agreed amount. The buyer goes to the Ministry of the Land after receiving consent from the land control board, land search, clearance from municipal/county council, KRApin, passport photos, old title deed and sale agreement for the land ownership to be changed. It costs Ksh 5,000 to process the new title deed, the process should take two weeks.

  • Stamp duty and Post-purchase activity

Apply for an application for the valuation of the land. It is done by the government valuer using the form signed by the seller of the land. Documents filed by the owner are used to evaluate the payable stamp duty. You are required to pay stamp duty based on the value of the land which is 4 per cent of the land value for urban areas and 2 per cent for rural areas.

One week after purchasing the land, the buyer should conduct another search with the Ministry of lands to validate that the land is now in their possession. It can impact a lot as it is a crucial step to acquiring land.

To finally become a legal landowner you need to make sure you follow the right steps as the process of acquiring land is not a walkover just for anyone interested in owning land. Follow the Kenyan laws to note to be recognized as a real landowner.