Acquiring Property in Ghana without Risk of Litigation – avoiding the nightmare in your pursuit of the Ghanaian Dream

By Evelyn Latse

For many Ghanaians in the U.S., the real home-ownership dream is the Ghanaian Dream, that is, to acquire property in Ghana.

In recent times, however, the Ghanaian Dream has for many, become the Ghanaian nightmare. The Ghanaian in the Diaspora’s road to his or her dream home in Ghana can be particularly bumpy (often literally and figuratively). From purchasing land that has been sold to multiple buyers, to friends and family squandering your construction funds, acquiring property in Ghana has almost become synonymous with buying litigation.  Most construction projects end up in Court battles over the true ownership of land, or with individuals trying to recoup pilfered funds from contractors, friends, and yes, even very close relatives.

 In recent years, property values in Ghana, particularly in the larger cities, have appreciated at a dizzying rate.  High rates of rural urban migration, as well as an influx of foreign purchasers have driven the price of property in Ghana to almost unimaginable highs.  The high transaction costs and emotional stress of dealing with disappointments have led many to give up on their Ghanaian dream. 

However, the Ghanaian Dream is still attainable.  Following are 5 quick tips to help you get a good night’s sleep, and realize your Ghanaian dream at the same time.

1)      Do your home-work – sounds pointless or unnecessary? It is not, because, most individuals purchase land without conducting their own investigation.  This is an investigative process, whereby you try to ascertain the true ownership of the land. Be sure to ask questions from any and everyone you can, about the true owner of the land. You will be surprised what you can learn from the watchman down the road, if only you would, or can, ask.

 

2)      Verify ownership with the Lands Commission – this can be an expensive and lengthy step that you still do not want to bypass.

 

3)      Buy land from a developer or municipal development authority – this may not always be possible as majority of lands in Ghana are stool lands, and are thus sold by or through traditional authorities and/or their agents.  However, where possible, buying land from a developer or municipal development authority is a “safer” way to purchase land.  Most municipal development authorities or developers have done extensive documentation on their lands.  Additionally, most municipal lands can only be sold through the municipal authority, thus reducing the possibility of the same parcel of land being sold by unscrupulous persons who actually do not own the land. Another advantage of going this route is that the developer or municipality usually services its plots; that is the plot comes with amenities such as roads, water and electricity.

 

4)      Buy a house from a developer – this is perhaps the most litigation-proof way to buy a house.  Here, the developer does all the home work for you. Buying from a developer means you don’t go it alone.  While conventional wisdom holds it that it is cheaper to build your own house, building your house has many hidden transaction costs.  From expensive travel costs to loss of working time, the true cost of building a house from abroad can quickly add up. This, coupled with the attendant diverting of your construction funds, from your agents on the ground can easily double the actual cost of construction.

5)      Hire an attorney! Yes, and do this first, and not last!

The above steps should help make the bumpy road to your dream house in Ghana a little smoother.  Go ahead and realize your dream to own your piece of Mother Ghana!

Evelyn Latse Esq. is a practicing attorney with office in Montclair, New Jersey

She may be reached at phone (973) 509 4624

                                      Fax     (973) 783-4407

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Posted by on Aug 21 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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