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Red Flags to Look for When Buying Land

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By Neela Ramsundar

 

BEWARE when buying land in Trinidad and Tobago.

This country has more than its fair share of fraudsters, scam artists and downright dishonest people looking to find creative ways to part you from your hard-earned money.

Social media has created an even bigger pool to lure unsuspecting victims.

A red flag refers to anything that makes a transaction look suspicious and should cause you to examine it more closely to ensure the transaction is genuine.

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Here are five red flags to look out for when buying land:

  • The landowner hesitates or refuses to give you a copy of the Title Deed until you sign a written agreement to buy the land. Before a sale of land can be completed, the buyer needs to be able to do a title search. The purpose of the title search is to ensure that the landowner is the actual owner of the land, that there are no problems with his title and no judgments, mortgages or lis pendens (a pending court matter) registered against him. A title search cannot be done without a copy of the title deed. If the landowner refuses or hesitates to give you a copy unless you contract to buy the land, this is a huge red flag! Something may be wrong with the title to the land!

  •  The landowner pressures you to sign a contract (called an Agreement for Sale) to buy the land without letting you get legal advice first. They usually say               that other buyers want the land and that you may lose it unless you sign the contract. There may be terms and conditions in the Agreement for Sale                     which may not be in your interests. Stand you ground and speak to your lawyer first.

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  • The deposit is more than 10%. A deposit is paid as a sign of good faith that you serious about buying the land. The standard amount is 10% of the purchase price. While you can agree to pay more than 10%, it is a red flag warranting investigation why more than 10% is demanded. You see, if you do not complete the sale of the land through no fault but your own, the landowner can keep your deposit and sell to someone else. You would want to make sure if that happens, only 10% is forfeited, even though you paid more.
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  • A larger parcel of land is cut into smaller lots, but the landowner has no plan. Without a cadastral sheet or plan prepared by a surveyor showing the boundaries, how are you to know the four corners of the piece of land you’re buying?
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  • Registered Land without approved plans of subdivision. Town and Country Planning Division approval is needed for larger parcels of land to be subdivided into smaller pieces. With registered land (the title Deed bears the words “CERTIFICATE OF TITLE” and has a Volume No. & Folio No.) you will not be able to register a deed without an approved plan of subdivision. Special care needs to be made with registered land to ensure you can actually buy it.

Lands that have problems associated with its purchase usually are priced much cheaper than those without any problems.

Prices that seems too good to be true should be another red flag. When thinking about buying land, it’s not wise to sign a contract to buy the land then go to a lawyer to finish the sale.

Any problems with the sale may be a lot harder to fix, if it can at all. Please reach out to an experienced land Attorney for their advice from the very beginning. Be safe Trinidad and Tobago.

Copyright © 2020 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general informative purposes only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. For legal advice on your specific situation, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly. Liability for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever allegedly incurred a consequence of using content in this article is thus hereby excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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