Step-by-Step Process of buying Property in Kenya

When buying property in Kenya, it is prudent that the correct process is followed. Most people find themselves entering into transactions with strangers and end up losing huge amounts of money to fraudsters who are usually very smart. It is recommended that one hires the right people including Real Estate Agents, Lawyers, Surveyors or any other party that they trust will give them more confidence in proceeding with the transaction.

It is common sense that one should already know their budget. The various ways of financing can be through cash savings, cash from disposing other asset, mortgage financing, sacco loans among other means. In case of any form of financing, one should determine first how much they qualify by approaching the relevant loan officer for a pre-qualification so that you get to know what your budget is.

Below is the process that one should follow to ensure that complete due diligence is conducted to avoid regrets.

1. Identify the property

The first step is finding the property (land, house etc) that interests you. You can do this by contacting the vendor directly or by enlisting the services of a reputable real estate agent. When you have identified the property you want to buy it is important to conduct a site visit to ensure that the property meets your specific needs.

2. Conduct a search

The buyer should obtain from the seller a copy of the title of the land and a copy of the national identity card of the seller. The copy of the title will be used to conduct a search of the land at the lands office while the copy of the national identity card will be used to verify the identity of the seller at Registration of Persons Bureau. The search results are usually ready for collection from the lands registry 2-3 days after application, and contain such details as;

a)      The registered owner of the property

b)      The size of the property

c)       The encumbrances registered against the title if any, such as courts orders, prohibitions, caveats and cautions

3. Negotiation & Sale Agreement

The buyer should, either by himself or with the help of his lawyer, engage the seller or his estate agent for purposes of discussion and agreeing on the terms of sale which will constitute the Sale Agreement. It is customary for the buyer to pay a 10% deposit and then the balance of the purchase price upon completion of the sale transaction. The balance can be paid off in form of a mortgage being borrowed by the buyer to complete the transaction.

Both the buyer and the seller are required to sign the Sale agreement. It is at tis stage that the buyer pays the deposit.

4. Transfer & Completion

A transfer is a document that shows a formal ‘movement’ of proprietary rights from the seller to the buyer. This is signed by both parties.

5. Stamping & Registration formalities

The next stage of the sale process is the payment of stamp duty on the transfer of property and registration charges. To determine the amount of duty payable, the seller’s advocates must apply for valuation of the property at the lands office. The valuation is done by government valuers who are required to determine the market value of the property. The Stamp duty paid is between 2% to 4% of the value of the property.

Stamp duty is collected by the Kenya Revenue Authority and should be paid to the Commissioner of Domestic Taxes through various banks which have been appointed as collecting agents. Once stamp duty on the transfer documents has been paid by the buyer the documents are then lodged at the lands office for stamping with duty.

The final step is for the transfer documents and all the attendant documents i.e the original titles, land rent and rates clearance certificate, consent to transfer, the duly completed valuation for stamp duty form, and the stamp duty declaration, assessment and pay-in-slip should be booked of registration.

6. Registration

The very final step of the sale process is the registration of the transfer in favour of the buyer. When a duly registered transfer has been released to the buyer it is important to conduct another search on the property just to ensure that the proper registration has been done.

If the purchase price was to be provided by a bank or other financier, the duly registered documents are charged to the financier to enable it settle the balance of the purchase price. The documents will then be held by the financier until the buyer pays the full amount of the loan.

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