Your Property Title is the Foundation of Your Real Estate

Title DeedA building that is built on sand will sink, develop cracks and eventually collapse. A building on solid rock cannot withstand the might of bulldozers. So how strong is your investment? The real foundation upon which to build your real estate (read as land and building) empire is your property title. It is the title that will grant you the right to develop, keep or dispose of real estate.

Real estate has no soul; it does not care who its owner is. So before you start building your portfolio, you need to secure the title and confirm that it is in your name. If you are buying, ask the seller for a copy of the title and confirm that it is in the seller’s name or that the seller has the capacity to sell it to you. If the title has not been processed, or if you are buying shares in real estate, you should ask the seller for the parent title and repeat the process until you get to the title. The title will provide you with the opportunity to investigate its ownership and past dealings through official searches at the Lands Registry. If you can’t reach the title it is wise to abandon the project and move on. We have seen many buildings pulled down because they were built either on other persons land or public land.

Now that you have a copy of the title, you need to confirm that it relates to the real estate under consideration. The title will have the Land Reference Number on it and may also include the Deed Plan or reference the Survey Map Number that will show the location of the land. You will need to obtain the official and certified survey map from the Survey of Kenya office and identify the piece of land on the ground confirming its boundaries. If the survey map takes you to a different property abandon the project and move on.

Lastly you need to understand the content of the title. A title may spell what you can or cannot do with the real estate. Your lawyer will play a vital role here. As a caution, do not always assume that you will be able to obtain the change of user, so make your decision wisely.

Stephen Omengo
Real Estate Consultant at Tysons Limited, Nairobi-Kenya
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