Buying a property is the most important and biggest investment that many of us will make in our lifetime. So it’s critical to make sure that the property you are buying is in ‘good condition’ legally speaking and free from any potential problems or hassles. Property ownership starts with the certificate of title. This important document confirms who owns the property and ideally, this should be the person selling it to you. There are times when the seller will be selling through a personal representative such as a power of attorney or if they are deceased, through an executor or administrator. The role of the personal representative needs to be validated by registration at the relevant public office.
Once you have the title deed in hand, you need to do a search at the Lands and Deeds Registry – another crucial step! This registry contains the details of all land that is on title, in Zambia. You can confirm if the person whose name appears on the certificate of title is indeed the owner of the land. You can also confirm the size of the land. The search will also reveal if there has been anything negative registered against the property that will prevent you from buying it like a mortgage, caveat or a notice that the state intends to repossess that property. This is very important because if you buy a property that has any of these negative entries, the law will assume you were aware of these negative entries and will do little to compensate you if the sale falls through.
In terms of the property due diligence, you want to make sure that the property has some development to avoid imminent repossession by the state for lack of use. If you’re buying bare land, then make sure you’re in a position to put down a foundation at least six months after buying the property. You also need to make sure that the property is properly zoned for your intended use. If you’re buying an old house that you intend to raze to the ground and build an office block, be aware that you have to go through the long process of changing the zoning from residential to commercial. Don’t forget to check those bills! Land rates from the council, water and electricity bills should all be cleared before you complete the purchase of the property. You should also check that ground rent has be paid off too..
It goes without saying that you should physically inspect the property or send a trusted representative to do that for you. See this month’s article on Land Law & You for more information. Last but not least, use reputable professionals when buying land! It amazes us how often people use conveyancing freelancers and/or briefcase agents. The best due diligence you can do is to hire stellar professionals to conduct the due diligence for you. They will do the best job in ensuring you are buying what you pay for and that your interests are fully protected. Diaspora Connect brings together a trusted team of licenced professionals that can assist you in buying property safely in Zambia or deal with any other property related matter you need help with. Contact us Today!