For a first time buyer, the process of finding and buying land can be quite the daunting task. To most people, buying land is an expensive, long and tedious process. It really doesn’t have to be this way. BuyRentKenya breaks down the process of buying land in Kenya for you to make your experience less intimidating.
Factors to Consider before Investing in Land
The fact that the process isn’t as difficult as you first assumed doesn’t mean that you should now rush to acquire your own piece. There are a few things you should consider, including;
1. Where you wish to buy land
Do you have a location in mind? Have you been looking around? Do you want land for agricultural purposes, to build a house to live in or rent? What are your short-term and long-term goals? Be clear about your investment goals and what is priority.
2. Familiarise yourself with the different types of lands in the market.
Land in Kenya can be owned by four types of entities namely; the government, county governments, groups or individuals. These ownership entities can be characterised by different tenure systems as defined below.
Freehold: The freehold tenure allows you as a landowner to hold the land for an indefinite term.
Leasehold: The leasehold tenure will allow you as a landowner to hold land for a limited tenure with an option of extending the tenure upon expiry. The Kenyan constitution limits non-citizens to a maximum tenure of 99 years.
Customary: Customary tenure is entirely based on communal ownership of land, where the land assignment is done to a clearly defined group of people who usually belong to the same ethnic community.
Public/ State land: This is a tenure type that portrays the government as a private landowner and assigning all unoccupied and wasteland to it.
3. Get your budget right
After you are clear on your investment plans and why you want to buy land, you might want to take a peek at your bank account. Do you have enough savings to buy land? Can your credit history allow you to access financial backing? First be clear on your investment goals, – what is your intent with the land? Do you want to build a house to rent or to live in now or is it a retirement home? Once you’re clear about what you want to do, then you need to think about two things simultaneously: your budget and the location of the land you want to buy. This is because sometimes, not always, it is necessary to blow your budget to get land in what is the right location for your long-term plans.
4. Do your Research and Talk to Experts
Once you have an idea of the size, location and use of land; and you have decided on your budget, you need to do your homework. find out how the area is in terms of security, growth opportunities and social amenities. You need to confirm that the land will give maximum returns on your investment.
Legal Aspects of Buying Land in Kenya
As you consider buying land in Kenya, you need to understand the following legal procedures.
- Land Identification – You will need to identify the land and confirm that it meets your ideal size, location and land use criteria.
- Conduct a search in the land’s registry – Once you confirm the piece of land that you want, get a copy of the title deed and use it to search for the land’s records in the registry. Search results will help you confirm the current ownership, location, size and any caveats attached to the land.
- Conduct a search in the county office – You need to conduct a search in the county office where your ideal land is located to find out if there are any pending land rates. The cost of these checks will vary from county to county. In Nairobi city hall you are likely to pay at least Ksh.7,500.
- Obtain Land maps – You will need 2 maps from the ministry of land or a local surveyor. One map is an overview of the land and adjacent plots while the other is drawn to scale. These maps will cost you at least Ksh.300 each.
- Verify the ground – Armed with the two maps, you will need to visit the land with the surveyor and seller to verify the dimensions. You will then erect beacons to prevent future disputes.
- The sale agreement – You will then need your lawyer to represent you in signing the sale agreement. The seller might ask you to pay some deposit, but it advisable to wait till you get clearance from the Land Control Board.
- Clearance for the Land Control Board – The Land Control Board is comprised of county commissioners and area elders who hold forums to ensure that land transfers in the area are transparent and that transacting parties are willing buyers and willing sellers. Most forums charge Kshs.1000 for a meeting. However, you can get past the schedule at a cost of Ksh.5000.
- Transfer documents – Once you have been cleared by the LCB, you are now free to make the payment for the land you are purchasing and get signed transfer forms from your seller. You should then take these documents alongside the sale agreement document, clearance from LCB, clearance from the county, land search documents, your national ID, KRA Pin, 3 passport photos and the old title deed to the ministry of land. Change of land ownership will take around 2 weeks and you will pay at least Ksh.5000 to process a new title.
- Stamping of the transfer – You should use the valuation form filled by your seller to apply for valuation by the government valuer. The Lands office will compute a stamp duty payable for you using these documents.