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Buying Land in Ghana from Abroad: Legal Steps Involved

It can be a rewarding investment to acquire land in Ghana, but it is important to navigate the legislative environment to maximize security and success. Ghana has attracted interest from diaspora investors who want to acquire land for various purposes due to its booming real estate market and macroeconomic stability. To assess the purchase of land in Ghana, it is important to consider the following main legislative steps:

  1. Get a Local Real Estate Attorney:
    The appointment of a competent property attorney in your area is the initial and most important step. To ensure your investment complies with Ghana’s laws, it is advisable to be guided by an experienced lawyer practicing in Ghana’s Land Law. They can assist in verifying land titles, assessing property documents, and providing information on local legal procedures.
  2. Verify Land Ownership and Title:
    It is necessary to verify land ownership and title before finalizing any transaction. An exhaustive Title Search conducted by a professional lawyer can detect any existing encumbrances, disputes, or claims on the property, mitigating the risk of buying unclearly owned land and ensuring a clean, marketable title.
  3. Understand Land Tenure Systems:
    Ghana has different land tenure regimes, including leaseholds, freeholds, and customary lands. Understanding the legal consequences of each system is essential to make informed decisions. For example, customary law often applies to custom land, requiring collaboration with local authorities and chiefs for proper documentation.
  4. Obtain Land Commission Approval:
    Foreigners wishing to buy land in Ghana must obtain consent from the GIPC and the Lands Commission. Your real estate lawyer can assist in applying for a permit and guide you through the procedure to obtain necessary authorizations.
  5. Conduct Due Diligence on the Sellers:
    Before entering into a contract, ensure the credibility of the seller or developer. Verify the legal right of individuals or companies to sell land and check their reputation in previous transactions to prevent fraudulent transactions.
  6. Set Up a Comprehensive Sales Agreement:
    Work with your lawyer to draw up a detailed sales agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the land purchase. A well-drafted contract minimizes the risk of disputes, providing a legislative framework for transactions.
  7. Registration of the Land Title:
    Ensure proper registration of the transfer of ownership with the Ghana Land Commission after completing the purchase to be legally recognized as the property owner and protect your interests in subsequent transactions or disputes.
  8. Stay Informed on Tax Obligations:
    Pay attention to the taxation implications of land ownership in Ghana to maintain compliance with local rules and avoid legal problems, such as property taxes.
  9. Environmental and Regulatory Compliance:
    Ensure the land complies with environmental and regulatory standards to prevent legal difficulties arising from restrictions on development due to environmental concerns or zoning regulations.
  10. Escrow Services for Transactions:
    Consider using escrow services for financing aspects of a transaction to provide an additional layer of security, holding funds until all sale conditions are satisfied and preventing financial fraud or default.
  11. Stay Informed about Changes in Legislation:
    Stay informed about changes in Ghana’s legislation and regulatory environment that may affect property purchases. Regular updates from lawyers can help you adapt to any changes in the legal framework.
  12. Survey and Physical Inspection:
    Conduct a thorough survey with the assistance of an expert surveyor to verify land boundaries and assess terrain accurately, preventing border disputes.
  13. Take a Look at Land Use Planning and Zoning Laws:
    Understand land use planning and zoning laws in the specific area where the land is located to comply with local regulations on the intended use and avoid legal complications.
  14. Contact Other Diaspora Investors for Advice:
    Connect with other diaspora investors who have navigated the land purchasing process in Ghana for valuable guidance and recommendations on legal practices or professionals.

In Ghana, strengthening the lawfulness of buying land involves considering these specific items on your checklist. Diligence in legal matters safeguards investments and contributes to a positive experience for the country’s real estate sector. Carefully considering legislative measures and partnering with a local law firm can ensure a smooth and legal transaction, allowing diaspora investors to confidently participate in Ghana’s property market and contribute to its growing economy.

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