It is no surprise that land is the most preferred investment in Kenya. For obvious reasons like lower risks, high returns, less competitive as compared to capital investments e.g. buildings, value addition e.g. farming, no utility bills to pay etc.
Culturally land is perceived as a symbol of wealth and financial security, this perception attributes to why majority of Kenyans prefer land investment. As much as land investment seems like the best way of making money safely by selling the land at higher price in future, without due diligence it can result to irrecoverable loss.
The Constitution of Kenya Guarantees everyone the right to own land, but before buying land it is important to do a vast research on the land you wish to buy. Due diligence will give you a clear understanding on the legal and registration status of the land you want to purchase.
Buying land near the airport, parks, railway line, rivers, lakes and the ocean without the consent from relevant authorities will cost you in future and your use of the land will be limited. You also need to understand the physical conditions of the land you want to buy. The area you want to purchase the land should not be water logged area, prone to floods or landslides.
Understanding the legal frameworks and policies that govern land is very crucial. It will help you choose wisely on the location of land and its use. For instance, under the Kenyan law on Kenyan Citizens are allowed to own lease hold and freehold tenure. Free hold gives the holder of the land an absolute ownership of the land while leaseholds do not exceed 99 years after expiry and upon the expiry of the leasehold, the land reverts back to the government. Non-residents in Kenya can only own land on lease hold tenure.
It is also important for you to familiarize yourself with the Constitutional classification of land in Kenya. The supreme law of the land categorizes land into public land, community land and private land. Public land is owned by the government, Article 62(2) of the Constitution states that public land shall vest in and be held by a county government in trust for the people resident in the county, and shall be administered on their behalf by the National Land Commission.
Community land belongs to a specific ethnic community based on communal ownership, Article 63 of the Constitution speaks about community land as the second classification of land in Kenya. Community land shall vest in and be held by communities identified on the basis of ethnicity, culture or similar community of interest. According to Article 64 of the Constitution defines Private land consists of; registered land held by any person under any freehold tenure; land held by any person under leasehold tenure; and any other land declared private land under an Act of Parliament.
Before making any purchase you need to familiarize yourself with professionals involved in buying and selling of land like Advocates of the High Courts. Advocates play a vital role in the purchase of land as they help draft sale agreements between the seller and the buyer of the land. This agreements include the price of the land, method of payment and mode of payment. Advocates are very important because the sale agreement they draft will protect you legally in case any party fails to honor their part of the agreement.
Another professional that you will need to work with in land purchasing is a valuer, the aid in valuing the land for the purposes of stamp duty. You will also be required to work with a surveyor who will assist in doing ground verification and aid in processing land maps. Finally you will be required to engage with the Land Control Board who will give you consent for transferring the land to the seller.