Buying property in Kenya be it a residential house, for commercial use or land is usually a significant investment for most people. The maxim ‘caveat emptor’ (let the buyer beware) should thus be the rule of thumb. Here is an introduction to Kenya’s property market and guidelines to buying land.
Kenya’s property market has seen steady growth over the last fifty years. However, surveys show that demand has often been greater than the production. For example, between 1983 and 1988 production fell short by 20,000 units annually. The national demand in 1988 stood at 247,000 units, out of which 56,000 were needed in the urban areas.
Currently the urban areas demand stands at 150,000 units, whereas the production stands at 34,500 units.
The Wealth Report 2012, show that Nairobi’s luxury residential properties market was the best performing in the world. It grew at 25%, leaving luxury hotspots such as London, Miami and Hong Kong behind.
Most of the houses being built in suburbs are townhouses, serviced and furnished apartments and luxury villas. The houses target high and middle-income earners.
With the formation of county governments, there’s bound to be more keen interest in property development in other towns apart from Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu.
Property in Kenya – Buying Land Guidelines
Before buying property in Kenya it is important to conduct due diligence. When purchasing land you should: –
Thorough review title documents to establish ownership, land-use status, area, beacons and map.
Never make any payment in a hurry especially where the vendor insists on cash payment.
Establish legal ownership and status by carrying out a ‘search’ at the Ministry of Land.
Always use a lawyer for any land transaction because the process is technical and complicated. Ideally, go for a lawyer who specializes in conveyance.
Ensure that the required tax ex., stamp duty is paid at the time of transaction.
Avoid undervaluation for stamp duty or the temptation to bribe in order to evade duty. Many titles have been annulled for not paying duty.
Avoid public land, especially that which was allocated to individuals between 1998 and 2010.
Be cautious in dealing with particular local authorities, civil servants and state corporations housing because some rent-seeking officers have been known to sell such land in the past only for buyers to lose it in the end.
Pay government dues at the right place and in the right manner.
Preferably pay using bank cheques, as they are safer than cash.
Retain copies of all cheques and obtain receipts for all payments.
There are two central registries in Kenya where all information related to land can be found – The land registry in Nairobi (also called the Inland Registry) and the Coast Registry.
For adjudicated land and land registered Under Cap 300 (Registered Land Act), there is a registry in each district where all land records are kept and can be accessed at a fee.
Avoid land brokers and agents of dubious character to keep off fake documents.
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