Guidelines for Buying Property

Guidelines for Buying Property in Uganda

The guidelines for buying property in Uganda are very crucial steps one should take to acquire a genuine dream property. To buy a Property in Uganda is not a hard process if proper procedures are followed. Purchasing any Property can be a complicated matter if one uses unprofessional, unlicensed property dealers in the search for a dream property of one’s choice. Overtime, the procedure for buying property in Uganda had been slightly tainted due to property disputes, use of unlicensed Real Estate Agents, lack of proper knowledge on the side of the property buyers, sham land deeds and many other anomalies in the industry.

Property investments are extremely capital intensive and any inaccuracies made during the process may cause problems to the purchaser. This makes it vital for a buyer to exercise due caution while scrutinizing the property documents. With proper legal guidance and advice, examination of documents and authentication of relevant information relating to the property, the buyer can certify that the investment brings a sense of security and peace of mind.

All in all, the baseline for acquiring a wrong property is on the unawareness of property buyers in following the right property acquisition channels, asking the right questions and working with the right people in executing a property transaction. When buying real estate in Uganda or a property, use the right channels and the whole process of purchasing a property will be smooth and fruitful. Due to some few cases of substandard real estate transactions that may affect the industry, Ecoland Property Services shares with you some basic tips to follow during the acquisition process of a Property in Uganda:-

Identify your prospective Property through a Real Estate Agent

When you feel you wish to buy a property in Uganda, think about how you are going to achieve this. You may contact a real estate firm, a property agent or a friend who has recently acquired a property. Real Estate agents usually have properties for sale or rent in their databases or can easily identify a property in you preferred area using their professional networks. When a property is confirmed available, then go to the next step.

Make an appointment to Visit the Property in Question

Having got basic information about the property you intend to purchase, go ahead and make an appointment with a real estate agent so that you can see physically the properties on the market. Look through your work schedules and fix a programme for visiting those properties on the market. The ideal time for property tours is usually evening hours, weekends and anytime you are free from work. Chances are you will check several properties or a few of them and identify a property of your choice. If you find a property that appeases you, go to the next step of meeting the people concerned with its sale/rent. 

Ask to meet the Property Owner to discuss more detail including the price

Having liked the property that is, if it has your preferred features in terms of size, neighborhood, topography, social amenities, infrastructures and a fair asking price, ask your real estate agent to fix an appointment and you meet the in charge. It may be the owner himself, the lawyer in charge of it, a property manager or anyone delegated to sell or oversee it. During your meeting, you will request for more property details and ask more questions or confirm some answers that the agent might have given you during the property tour. You also discuss the sale or rental prices. Upon a verbal agreement regarding the price, the property owner will give you a photocopy of the property title deed for you to verify the authenticity of the property.

The property details in this case should show the property Block Number, Plot Number, the Volume/Folio, District and Sub County, the property owner’s names, the property size, encumbrance status and the previous owners if any from whom it was transferred to the current title holder among others. Usually you give such property detail to your trusted lawyer who helps you in the verification process. Please note that some property buyers ask for the property title details for verification before meeting the property owner to agree on the price. Either way, it works.

Verify the Property Documents using your Trusted Lawyer/Attorney

Upon getting property documents, pass them to your trusted advocate to make all the necessary verification of the property. The lawyer will get a search report from the Land office under which the property is registered. He will also ask for more backing documents where necessary especially properties jointly owned, family estates or properties formerly disputed by parties and so on. A lawyer will also visit the property in question and probably ask a few questions to the neighbors, Local Councils (LCs) or people with a history of the property on the ground. In short, any knowledgeable lawyer will compile all documents before recommending a property to you as ideal for purchase. Where necessary, your lawyer may also organize for the surveying of the property to ensure that the size on the papers is the size on the ground.

Property documents checklist

It is a legal principle and a first step that buyer undertake due diligence, to establish the existence of the title with the seller, the nature of the title that is clear and free from encumbrances. All documents must be examined thoroughly and the property owner may be called upon to offer the following documents / information:

  1. Title documents of the property:  all documents evidencing the transfer of title over the years, culminating in the vesting of property with the seller.
  2. Nature of title: Mailoland, Leasehold, freehold, customary or Kibanja or development right.
  3. In case of the seller claiming development rights to the property, the agreement and power of attorney, executed by the owners in favor of the seller should be presented.
  4. All title documents being duly stamped and registered at the land registry.
  5. Identities of the seller especially the passport or national ID issued by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA)
  6.  Information on pending or past litigation.
  7. Availability of original title documents with the seller.

Verify the identity of the Seller

As a buyer, ascertain the identity of the seller and any specific conditions, governing the ability of the seller to convey the property, the same way you verify the property documents. Under the seller’s identity verification, ensure that the following occurrences are considered:

  1. Residence status plus the nationality of the seller in case of an individual.
  2. Identification of all the owners for the case of jointly owned properties.
  3. Where the seller is a company, trust, partnership firm, society, the constitution documents of the entity are essential to confirm its ability to own and transfer the property, besides ascertaining that the person executing and registering the sale deed is duly lawful and accredited.
  4. Documented Orders from the competent court, authorizing sale of the property and appointing a guardian, where the property is held by a minor or person of unsound mind. 

Property Purchase/ Rental Agreement

Upon the recommendation of your lawyer on the authenticity and genuineness of the property, you will go into a written agreement between you the buyer and the seller or the tenant and the landlord. The agreement usually has the terms of payment, the transfer of the property ownership, the property details are all stated and everything as agreed upon between the two parties. Upon payment from the property, the next process will be about transfer of the property to the new owner. For the case of a rental property, a prospective tenant is given access to the property upon payment of the initial rental dues as per the agreement.

Transfer of the Property title deed to the new owner

Upon the payment for the property, as per the sales sale agreement, the lawyer will work on the process of transfer of the property title to the names of the new owners. The transfer documents at the Registry of lands are then conveyed to the Registrar who passes the instrument of transfer. They are later delivered to the commissioner responsible for land registration for authentication. The registrar, then cancels out the old owner and replaces him with the buyer (new owner) in handwriting. It is obligatory to both the buyer and seller to make available passport photos for this process. Therefore, the property transfer documents comprise of receipts of payment for stamp duties and registration fees, passport photos of both the seller and buyer of property. 

In conclusion, if you intend to acquire a property in Uganda, kindly follow the above tips and you will not stand to regret. Like the Motto of Ecoland Property Services goes, “Achieve Your Property Dream’. You dream to own or rent a property in Uganda can best achieved if you follow our tips or contact us for property identification of the properties on market.

How do you check property before buying? Key legal checklist for buying a property

  1. Property documents checklist.
  2. Verify the identity of the seller.
  3. Conversion and land-use permissions.
  4. Construction approvals.
  5. Occupancy certificate.
  6. Status of tax payment.
  7.  Physical survey and access to the property.

Word of Legal Caution

Unless you are completely convinced of the credentials of the seller and his ownership over the asset is duly certified by documentary proof, a buyer should circumvent getting into a transaction deal, regardless of how worthwhile it might appear. At times, people try to sell dubious properties at low attractive prices. A property may seem attractive in the beginning but would finally prove to be a major problem. Likewise, never engage with a seller who wants you to use unaccounted money to make the buying in order to save taxes as this would likely lead some future predicaments.