Land in Ghana has seen increasingly high levels of demand due to the growing population. Locals and expatriates alike aspire to stake a share in Ghana’s lands in order to serve either as a foundation for a home or for other commercial purposes. The process of land buying in Ghana is a bit cumbersome. Prospective buyers need to note that buying land in Ghana can only be done as a lease-hold and not a freehold agreement. A freehold can be described as a life estate; meaning the land is the eternal property of the owner. A lease-hold, on the other hand, is property that can be sold for a limited duration. In Ghana, the maximum ownership duration for expats is 50 years while for locals, it is 99 years depending on the arrangement with the land owners.
For non-Ghanaians for whom the process may be a little more complicated, it is recommended you buy land straight from the developers. Established real estate developers such Soaring Estates Ghana Limited are the safest option. Always check if the developer is registered with the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA). Foreigners can own agricultural, commercial, residential and/or industrial land on a leasehold basis up to 50 years, renewal of this is dependent on the landowner.
1. Do due diligence
Before buying a piece of land, you have to make enquiries and checks. Find out who owns the land and whether they own it outright or whether it is mortgaged. According to the Lands Commission, there is no standard procedure in acquiring land in Ghana. This raises the risk of buying a disputed piece of land, and if this happens, the best case scenario is to take the matter up in court, which could drag on for years. The onus is therefore on you to check for any fraudulent behaviour from the seller. A case in point is a seller who demands payment for a cadastral plan, which should not be the case. A land title search can be carried out by the appropriate government office and you can also carry out a valuation.
2 Search the process
After doing a background checks on the seller, you also need to check with the Lands Commission to verify whether the land actually belongs to that individual or group. This process usually takes a minimum of two weeks and, considering the length of time it can take for a court process; this one is worth the wait.
3. Obtain a cadastral plan
You need to establish the area you want to acquire the land from, find a set location and have the seller provide you with a cadastral or site plan prepared by a licensed surveyor which shows the precise location and coordinates of the land. This site plan helps prevent ownership disputes with land guards as the Lands Commission keeps copies in their office.
4. Hire an independent surveyor
The cadastral plan is a strong indicator of land availability but not a guarantee. Hiring an independent surveyor to cross-check the land against the site plan is a move in the right direction as it reduces the risk of disputes.
5. Draft and sign a purchase and transfer agreement
Before making payment, make sure to draft a purchase and transfer agreement endorsed by you and the seller. It would help to have a lawyer assist you in drafting such an agreement to protect your interest.
6. Register with Lands Commission
Ensure that you inform the Lands Commission about the transaction and apply for a transfer and registration of the land. The Lands Commission will provide you with a title certificate and cadastral plan at a later date.Whenever you conduct a property transaction make sure you are involved in every step of the process and if possible, employ the services of an independent property lawyer to check the paperwork.