When you own land, you can pass it on from generation to generation – making it one of the best investments you can make.
Unfortunately, that good investment can be wasted away if you find yourself becoming the victim of a land scam. While, getting scammed, is one of the biggest risks to buying land in Tanzania, there are other challenges you may face, including; building your house too close to the road, being sold public land and failure to meet regulations.
However, none of these issues should stop you from investing in some land, instead, you need to be careful in your inspection of a piece of land before you buy it.
This checklist will help you do just that.
Don’t Forget About Additional Costs:
Before we get started, you should be aware that there are more costs to land than just ‘buying the plot’. You need to also consider:
- Legal fees: title search, title insurance, and other closing costs.
- Inspection fees
- Connection fees: water (including well installation), sewer, electricity, phone
- Land clearing
- Excavation, cut and fill, and final grading
- Landscaping costs
- What are the property taxes?
- What are the insurance rates? Will differ if land is on a flood zone, or near water?
All these factors help protect you from scams and fines when you become a landowner. So take them seriously, and if you can’t afford it – then maybe it’s not the right time to make an investment.
Probably the most important aspect to buying land, is to make sure you cover all legal matters and that you are properly protected. A real estate agent should accompany you to the land inspection, make sure they ask:
- Are the land boundaries clearly and accurately marked?
- How close to the road can you build the house/gate/wall etc.?
- Can the seller provide a clear title for the property?
- Is it legal to build the type and size of house you are planning? So for instance, if you plan to rent the house as an office space or have a store – are you allowed to do that in that area?
- Is the plot buildable? Check if there are any building restrictions due to wetlands, water frontage, steep slopes, historical or cultural sites, or other local regulations.
- What was the land formerly used for? It’s important that you know if land was used for farming, as a dump, garage, factory or for any other chemical producing activities. If so, was it cleaned up or is that something you’ll have to do?
- Is it in a flood safe or high flood risk zone?
- Will you own the water and mineral rights?
- Are there any endangered or protected species on the property?
For most people, the whole purpose of buying land is to build property. You should take a contractor/builder with you to do a thorough inspection on the ‘buildability’ of a plot. It’s important for them to know if:
- There is adequate access and room for construction equipment?
- Does the soil have problems, including expansive clay, un-compacted fill, or ledge that may require blasting?
- Is the area subject to flooding?
- Are there steep slopes or unstable land that requires special engineered foundations?
- Will large areas of cut and fill be required to level the land?
- Are there areas subject to erosion that will need stabilization?
In addition to the legal and construction concerns, you should also consider your quality of life in that area:
- What are your neighbors like, and do your lifestyles match?
- What is the distance from work/city/family?
- Where are the closest convenient stores, restaurants, shopping centers, bars, schools and any other amenities important to you?
- Is the land in a noisy neighborhood or is it too quiet?
- Are there any unwanted smells from farms, sewage openings etc?
Have the right people by your side
All in all, there are a lot of factors to consider when inspecting a piece of land. And it’s best to have the right professional by your side to help you with each aspect of the inspection.
A real estate agent may be knowledgeable about regulations and contracts, but they may not be able to spot problems with the soil. Whereas a builder can tell you what’s possible to build in a plot of land, but they can’t create a contract that will protect you from a scam.