Fake stands and bogus property sellers have been common headlines in local media for a long time.
So how then can one buy a property and avoid being duped- sold a fake property by a bogus seller.
Here are steps that will assist you;
- Fish Don’t Get It!!!!!- A bait is too good to be true!!!!! Why does a fish bait move so slow and be easy to eat? That is the same with properties with tempting offers- if the price is ridiculously low, please know that it’s too good to be true most of the times. Many bogus sellers use this technique to sale a dummy to you.
- Why are they selling -The answer to this question should be firm and convincing. Reasons why the owners are selling will assist you get more information. For example the answer can be;
- Owner(s) died- so if they died, you need the following documents as evidence and these include;Letter of Administration-is a letter or documentation issued by the High Court appointing a person to manage or deal with assets and liabilities of the deceased person. Person is appointed as Executor
The High Court is a public office and thus ask to go with person representing the seller to the High Court to check if the Letter of Administration is genuine.
- Owner- Ask about the owner of the property and politely ask to meet the actual owner. It takes organized schemers to tie all the loose ends. When you meet the owner, ask all sort of questions you have- after all you not buying sweets!!
- If outside the country, please ask for their contact details so that you call or talk over WhatsApp or e-mail.
- Get documentation that proves that the one representing the seller as mentioned in 2 above or a Power Of Attorney-
A Power Of Attorney is a document that shows a person appointed by someone to act on their behalf. So a seller may appoint someone to act on their behalf maybe because that they are not around- in same town or country. A lawyer will greatly assist you identify a genuine Power Of Attorney.
4. Documents– ask for documents that show proof like; Personal IDs– get IDs of all involved- the seller(s), representatives and all. Remember Registrar of Births and Death is a public office. You may go an extra step and go to verify.Title Deeds– ask for the original just to see it. Is it your first time seeing a Title Deed? Read here. A lawyer will definitely assist you. Please get in touch with us for assistance.
- To verify Title Deeds-visit the Deeds Office to verify the Deeds. The Seller will give you a copy to take to the Deeds Office to carry out what is called a Deeds Search- a simple process to check the genuineness of title deeds- owner, property description and all. You only pay a Dollar!!!!Cession– is the ceding (giving) of property by written agreement with the purchaser getting immediate rights to the property. Deeds will come out later.
- To verify a cession, you can go to the Council Offices and check if the Cession is valid. As part of the process, Seller and Buyer are required together with their spouses at Council Offices to change ownership.
- Visit the property– Go in person and see the property. If neighbors are there, talk to them. You can go there on the second time alone and ask the neighbors about the owner and all.
Caution- do not throw around information-the seller has some rights to privacy!!!
6. Estate Agent– avoid dealing with a seller’s representative that is not registered to carry out Estate transactions. Deal with reputable;
a. Estate Agent- Check with Estate Agency Council of Zimbabwe. They are located at Newlands Shopping Center
Avoid briefcase transactions or ‘boot transactions’. Visit the offices of the Estate Agent and talk to the receptionist, check for registration documents displayed on the wall, ask for other workmates and management.
b. Lawyers- verify the law firm through the Law Society Of Zimbabwe. This body registers and governs the operations of law firms.
7. Google- many people these days are leaving their trails on social media. Google the name of the seller, representative and see what comes out. You never know where that leads you to.
8. Payment- Do not rush to pay a deposit or the full fee before the property is transferred to you. This means only pay when Deeds or Cession is now in your name. The deposit or full some can be deposited with a Reputable Lawyer through their Trust Account.
- Get a receipt that you have paid
- Check where the Trust Account. If the Bank is shaky (you heard negative stories) highlight your concerns to the Seller and the lawyers
- You are encouraged not to use the account of the Estate Agent