1. Conducting a search at the Land Registry. This is the first step to take. A search helps to determine whether the seller has title to the property, if any competing interests exist on the property (such as mortgages or assignments), and the residual term of years left on the property.
2. Surveying the property. A licensed surveyor should be procured to survey the property and issue a survey plan. The survey plan confirms the size and location of the property.
3. Charting the land at the Surveyor-General’s office. It is important that the survey plan is taken to the Surveyor-General’s office for charting. This helps to determine if the property is free from government acquisition or if the land has been committed for other uses (such as private estates or public roads).
4. Requesting to see the original documents. It is helpful to inspect the original title documents when buying land in order to verify its authenticity. Also, where the property has been put up as collateral for a loan, the mortgage may not have been registered hence a search at the lands registry would not reveal the competing interest. Requesting to see the original documents may force the revelation of this information.
5. Visiting the location of the property. You do not want to buy a property that does not exist. Paying a visit to the property confirms the information that has been given about the land such as its location, size, and encumbrances. It also helps to uncover evidence of contrary possession such as “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” signs, court orders pasted on the walls, or the presence of squatters or tenants.
If the seller of the property is in the process of perfecting the title to the property, the buyer of the property can proceed to place a caution at the Land Registry. A caution serves to indicate that there is an interest on the property and no sale of the land, sub-lease or mortgage can be made without the consent of the cautioner. Confirm title to the property is registered at the Land Registry.