Don’t be Fooled, know the process of buying property

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Many buyers of property, especially the ones living and working abroad have fallen prey to friends and relatives who have claimed to be good in buying and sale of land and property, only to run away with money once it has been sent home. Others who have used their uncles and aunts claiming to know brokers and agents have been left disappointed when the property is registered under names different from the rightful owners.
Many trusting Kenyans out there are finding themselves in trouble over cases of fraud and theft committed by trusted friends and relatives. However,purchasing property need not be such a problematic experience.
There are legally laid down procedures for this important decision, which makes the process much easier more comfortable and protect the would be buyer from losing not only their hard earned cash but their valuable time as well. Here are some steps to take;

Get a lawyer and an agent:
In case you intend to buy a property you know too little about, involve a property agent of repute. He or she will guide you in identifying the most suitable property for your needs and resources. Involve them in the purchase arrangements too.
It is also important to involve a lawyer at this stage to avoid seeking legal help after things go wrong or should a deal turn sour. This would be more lengthy and expensive besides being traumatizing. Lawyers can be fraudulent too but the law protects the investor against the whims of a wayward lawyer. The Law Society of Kenya is a place where you could seek redress for a wayward lawyer.

Verify the property:
Once you have a lawyer and an agent, arrange for a search for the property you have identified. You will need to value it and establish if it had any problems with its ownership. You could start your search by visiting the relevant government offices and perusing through the books to verify salient aspects of the property or you could pay for the service and wait for a day if in Nairobi or 7 days if out of Nairobi. Government verification is important, for should the property turn out to have problems, the purchaser will receive a full refund from the government.

Start documentation:

After verification, instruct your lawyer to draft documentation to start the transaction. If the seller also has a lawyer representing him/her he /she will do the same. At this stage, the transaction is still not binding and change of thought will not lead to losses for you. The seller will also be sure of your keen interest in the property.

The Negotiation Stage:

The secret to make savings at this stage is to be extremely patient. Negotiations are usually characterized by delays, offers, counter offers as well as laying on the table all arguments on why the property should attract good prices versus why the buyer should pay less.
It is a very rigorous stage. It involves a lot of bargaining. Lawyers advice against premature decisions before giving consideration to all the pros and cons of the property or even committing to one that is overpriced.
Negotiations with the seller will include such things as date of entry(the dates on which you will obtain the legal authority of the property in exchange for the negotiated amount and payment terms), items to be included in the purchase and guarantees.
Negotiations are usually successful when both parties work towards the realization of a good deal. They need to be honest, invest time in the process, as well as adhere to strictly laid down legal procedures to avoid problems.
Your lawyer should help you deal with these issues and once they are resolved, you will have a binding contract for he purchase.

Contract signing:
As the contract is drawn, the lawyer should take you through the different clauses to explain their significance and implications. This stage may pose a challenge to the buyer since legal jargon may prove difficult leading one to commit to matters they do not understand fully.
The all too trusting or naive buyer may disregard legal help with disastrous results. He may think he can interpret the clauses on his own or that he can draw up a contract or decide to skip on the lawyer’s fee. Before signing the contract, the lawyer should check the titles and report to you any ‘title burdens’
These may include conditions which will have to be obeyed by any owner of the property like an obligation to pay regular amounts of repair costs or a restriction on the uses to which the property can be put as per the governing law.

Transfer process:
Once the contract is signed by both parties, it means that you are now bound and that the property is yours legally but it is not until the transfer process is complete that you will have the full rights to the property. This involves transferring the deed of ownership into your name. It however be some time before the property is registered in your name in the Kenyan legal system.
At the conclusion of the deal, there are other related matters in which you may consider your lawyer’s assistance. Such issues may include: drawing up a will or even partnership deed with a co-purchaser.

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Maina Gachanjah
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