Owning a home is certainly a dream come true isn’t it? But imagine how fast that dream could turn into a nightmare if you find out that there are legal issues on the land you purchased and on which you have built your home. Or that the house or land you bought was sold to you by a fraudster and the real owner shows up and starts demanding his property back? How about if you bought the property from the real owner , only to find out that your newly acquired property has been sold to two or three other people besides you? What a sad day that will be.
How can you prevent this heartbreaking situation from happening to you? How can you legally save or protect your investment or as we say in Ghana, “what are the legalities?”
Conduct a search
Before you purchase any type of property, you need to conduct a search at the Lands Commission if it’s an indenture or the Land Title Registry if it is a Land Title Certificate. It is important to have the title reviewed by A real estate lawyer and cleared by the land registry office. This process may seem cumbersome and tiresome because it takes a little over a month and some leg work to complete, however you will find that it is well worth it. Why? Because it’s the only legal means through which you can ascertain if the person selling you the land or the house is the rightful owner of that property.
Sign a Sale and Purchase agreement
It is also important that upon the purchase of any property that a sale and purchase agreement is signed. A sales and purchase agreement is a legal contract that obligates a buyer to buy and a seller to sell a product or service. This is a way of finalizing the interests of both parties before closing the deal. Upon the signing of this document, ensure that the title is transferred correctly to your name.
Transfer and Registration of the title
No one else apart from the legal owner of the land can transfer the land title into your name. This is a meticulous and complex process which requires that your name be captured correctly with no mistakes or typos. If this is not done correctly, you will not be able to sell the property in the future in which case It will be considered a dead asset.
Unless a registration has been done, the property’s search at the Deeds Registry or Lands Commission will not indicate you as the owner. The land will still be in the name of the vendor or the one you bought it from.
If you painstakingly complete this process, you will not have to worry about other people encroaching on your property or making claims over it.
Obtain a building Permit
Before you even think of seeking a building permit, you need an architect, quantity surveyor and a structural engineer to come out with the drawings (plan), feasibility and an estimate (budget) for the building. After all this is done, you may go ahead to request for the building permit from the appropriate Authorities.
In Ghana, building permits are issued by the Metropolitan, Municipal or District assemblies. In Accra for example, permits are issued by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). This process could take up to 3 months. Depending on the type of building you wish to put up, you will also need permits from the fire department as well as the Environmental protection agency. Do not start the building before you request for those permits. When their inspectors visit your site and they find that you do not have proof of compliance, namely; evidence that you have either received a building permit from the regulators or put in a formal request for one, it will result in fines, delay in the construction or in serious cases, a demolition of your property. Ensure that you follow due process in obtaining all the necessary permits.
Meet Development Timelines
If you are building a new home, the government requires that you meet certain timelines. You will likely need to have the foundation and walls completed within 2 years from the date of land purchase. Real estate professionals will work with the local government offices to make sure that any other building timelines are met.
These seem like a lot. However, these steps when followed to the latter will help protect and secure your investment.
Alternatively, if you buy a house from a trusted property developer, it will save you all the pain. The Estate developer will take care of all these processes on your behalf.
Before you sign any documents or any money changes hands, you would be well advised to seek professional help from lawyers and real estate professionals.
Now let the search begin!
Written by Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales and Marketing Officer