Essential documents to check when buying a property
Owning land can be fulfilling, but owning a home is definitely a dream come true. Adding commercial land properties to his portfolio is beyond a dream.
However, imagine how quickly this dream could turn into a nightmare if there are legal issues with the land, house or commercial property purchased. Or that the property you bought was sold to you by a fraudster and the real owner shows up and starts claiming his property?
What if you bought the property from the real owner, only to find that your newly acquired property was sold to other people besides you? Then there is the situation where you buy the property from the right owner, however, the documentation is poor making it difficult for you to transfer ownership smoothly.
A house is probably the biggest and most expensive purchase of a lifetime. An event like buying a house requires us to go through certain procedures in order to achieve the dream house we desire. This process can be cumbersome in reality, especially if you are a first-time buyer. Having the money to buy the property doesn’t seal the deal. The slightest mistake can cause you to lose your property.
To this end, it is important to know the documents related to the acquisition of a property in order to avoid future mishaps that will deprive you of the house, the land or any other property of your dreams. Here is a list of documents that are important in the acquisition of a house.
The first document you need to acquire from a seller is the support plan. The site plan is essentially a document that allows you to verify the perimeter of the land. Knowing what is on the development site is crucial when it comes to designing a building.
A detailed plan is necessary to give you important information. It also functions as the yard map which will help you know the size of the land the house you are buying is on. This is for the sake of accountability as it helps to know how many plots of land you have after buying the house. He will also guide you in the renovation of the house if necessary.
It is a document that shows the parcel of land and its property boundaries as well as landscape features, structural elements, setbacks, driveways, etc. They also serve as a historical record of a building. Realtors use site plans to show all of the key features of the home, including size and exterior features.
You cannot encroach on an owner’s adjacent property; hence the importance of including property lines on your layout plan. Property lines are drawn around the outside of the lot. A site map details all of this information so you know what you have and where you can’t cross.
In short, it has the size of the land measured in feet, acres or hectares. It includes the name of the owner(s) of the land or property, the geographical location of the property, the angles and lines drawn on the land. It bears the approval of the regional surveyor and the signature of the chartered surveyor who worked on it. Currently in Ghana, the lands of Accra, the national capital, have barcodes on their site maps. The site plan is also called a cadastral plan. It can contain an individual plot or multiple plots into one.
If you have a good site plan, you can search with it to confirm if the land is properly registered, who currently owns it and the ownership history. By this, you can be able to verify if you are buying a genuine property and from the legitimate seller.
Registered title of the deed
The title or registered deed is the actual land document. It is the land commission certificate certifying that a particular piece of land or property is legally registered by the state. It also validates the name under which the property is registered.
A seller of a property can only get theirs if they have taken their time to go through the whole land registration process. Therefore, it is the document that shows the original legal ownership of the property.
It is usually accompanied by the deed of transfer or deed of transfer which shows how the land was acquired. From whom it was acquired. The value at which it was acquired. Certified site plan and relevant signatures of parties, state actors and witnesses.
The landlord must have this document and give you copies to verify at the land commission. When all is done, this is what will be used to draw up a Deed of Transfer for the buyer to also have the owner’s interest transferred to the buyer to also have the deed registered or title deed.
Trust agreement or deed of assignment
The Deed of Trust is the legal document that indicates the original owner of the property. The deed must match the name on the site plan and must be proof that it belongs to the seller. When this is handed over, you should search the Land Commission to make sure the land is free of problems and whether whoever is selling the property is the true owner of the house or land before proceeding to purchase it.
It is important to have the deed reviewed by a lawyer, licensed surveyor or experienced real estate broker approved by the land registry office. This process may seem cumbersome and tedious as it takes just over a month and some legwork to complete, however, you will find that it is worth the effort as it is the only legal means by which you can check if the person who is selling the land or house to you is the rightful owner of that property.
The deed of trust, in short, contains the details of the land beyond the site plan. It contains the site plan, owner contact details and detailed history of the land. Interest in land, whether allodial interest, usufruct, freehold, lease or rental interest. It goes further by including the value of the land and the price at which it is sold and to whom (the buyer) it is alienated.
It must be drawn up by a lawyer and signed by the seller(s) and the buyer(s) and the witnesses of both parties. It must be duly dated and signed by the parties.
The deed of trust is also called deed of assignment. This is the deed the buyer will use to register the property in their name otherwise known as the Land Title Registration.
Letter of administration and sanction of acquisition
These two documents are necessary in the event that the owner is deceased and his next of kin is in charge of the estate left behind. Those who have inherited the property must obtain a letter of administration and verification consent in addition to the registered documents of the property. Without these two documents, the new owners cannot alienate the property to another person on their own authority.
Sometimes, instead of acquiring these documents, new owners transfer ownership into the name of the previous owner by forging that person’s signature. This is not sustainable because if there were to be a dispute over ownership, it would expose the purchase in a bad way. This will create a fraudulent impression in court.
Always make sure of these documents if you are buying a property that has been inherited, especially when the property was privately owned.
It is also important that when buying a property that a rental or purchase agreement is signed. This agreement is a legal contract that binds a buyer to buy and a seller to sell or rent a property.
It is a way to finalize the interests of both parties before closing the deal. When signing this document, make sure the title is properly transferred to your name. No one other than the legal owner of the land can transfer the title to the land in your name. This is a meticulous and complex process that requires your name to be entered correctly, with no errors 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 dead property. This means that you cannot register the property in your name. Unless a registration has been made, searching the property at the Land Commission will not show you as the owner.
The land will always be in the name of the seller or the person you bought it from. If you complete this process thoroughly, you won’t have to worry about other people encroaching on your property or making claims on it.
Property tax and other documents
Property taxes are often ignored by many people, but it is one of the essential documents of any residential or commercial property. Land tax or property tax is a property tax that is calculated on the taxable value of the property. It is known in Ghana as the land rate. Land tariffs are governed by the Local Governance Act 2016 (Act 936).
These receipts will help you know if the seller or previous owner paid the property tax to avoid problems with the law. Tax receipts should be checked to ensure that the seller of the property has paid all taxes due on the property for at least the last three years to the authorities.
Ask the previous owner or builder for receipts so that in the event of a property tax issue, you can provide evidence even in cases where the seller is out of reach.
It is not improper to ask for utility receipts from previous owners. These documents can also prevent you from incurring a utility debt related to electricity and water consumption. If there are also permit certificates, please obtain a copy to guide you as to what is permitted on the property or neighborhood. This will guide future development, save you from paying twice for a permit, and modify the permit if necessary.
The journey to owning your home or any landed property is exciting and should not be blocked by things that can be easily avoided. Acquiring these documents will save you a lot of trouble. Remember that these documents are not negotiable in any property purchase. Be sure to get them and enjoy your new property.