The issue of conducting a search on a property before the acquisition is worth reiterating over and over again as many people still venture into property acquisition on a whim and without conducting due diligence. A search report (relating to properties with registered titles such as registered conveyance, Certificate of Occupancy, and Governor’s consent) at the Land Registry reveals if a property is encumbered by a mortgage or a charge or unencumbered. It discloses the transactions (if any) affecting the property. In other words, it tells the story on a property.
The moment a prospective buyer expresses an interest in a property, the next important and precautionary move is to conduct a search on the property in order to find out if it is encumbered or unencumbered. However, many cases have shown that prospective buyers throw caution to the wind and pay for properties without conducting a search because of one reason or the other. The three major reasons out of the many are listed below:
1. Reliance on family members and friends: The fact that a family member or friend recommended or sourced the property is not a guarantee that one is buying an unencumbered property. This is a costly mistake that must be avoided at all times. When it comes to property acquisition, a prospective buyer must at all times be as objective as possible regardless of the close relationship with the person who sourced or recommended the property. It is only the search report obtained by a competent property lawyer that should inform the decision to either buy or not buy a property.
2. There are many other interested prospective buyers: There are many fraudulent sellers who use the marketing gimmicks of claiming there are many other prospects with ready cash interested in the same land in order to lure unsuspecting buyers into parting with their money without conducting a proper search. They play on the desperation and emotions of prospective buyers who are either tired of searching for land, or genuinely love the proposed land and want to quickly secure the property in their name. No matter how a seller makes a buyer feel ‘special’ or ‘chosen’ amongst numerous other prospects, due diligence must be carried out through a search at the Land Registry by a competent lawyer to safeguard the buyer’s interest and investment.
3. The price of the property is very cheap: Many a time, people quickly pay for a property once they find out the price is very low, without conducting a search. Although, there are cases where property owners in a bid to quickly liquidate a property, sell at a very low rate so as to get out of one distress or the other. However, this is not always the case and it behooves the buyer to do his/her due diligence particularly where the price of the property appears too low in comparison with the prevailing market value where the property is located. When the price is too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
As a prospective property buyer, you must never feel pressured to pay for a property, however much you love it without conducting a search at the Land Registry. Before your story is written on a property, why not find out the existing stories (if any) on the property?