Choosing the geographical site implies taking into account the distance between the plot and where you work, where you practice your sport, where you do the shopping. If you have any children, think about the easy access and the transport facilities for sending them to school.
Before taking any decision, go round the site at different times of the day. In this way, you will get some idea of its advantages and disadvantages. The land may hide some serious disadvantages which could hinder future building.
Factors to consider before buying land:
- The aspect, the view
- The accessibility
- The shape, the incline
- Noise disturbances
- The wind direction
- The neighbourhood
The first step is to look at the title deed of the land which you are planning to buy. Confirm whether the land is in the name of the seller and that the full right to sell the land lies only with him and no other person. Insist on seeing the Original Deed. Sometimes the seller may have taken a loan by pledging the Original Deed. It is also worth checking whether the seller has given permission for entry/access to others through this land and whether any other fact has been suppressed/left undisclosed by the owner of the land. It is better to get the Original Deed examined by a lawyer.
Different elements you need to check before buying a plot of land
Measuring the land
Ensure that the measurements of the plot and its borders are accurate and check its topography. You can do this with the help of a recognised surveyor. This will prevent a lot of problems in the future.
Is the ground mostly rock? It can be costly to bring electricity, telephone or cable services to the property if they are not already established nearby.
When the surveyor has finished his work, call in an evaluator to give you an idea of the real value of the plot. His findings could always be used in negotiations with the owner. At least you will agree on a reasonable price.
Apply to a specialist in subsoil (there are local companies specialising in this field). Visit the site with a civil engineer or an architect. This service may be costly, but at least it will prevent you from being unpleasantly surprised. It will also enable you to make sure that you will not spend a fortune in removing stones or digging in bedrock and will confirm that your land is not swampland. If access to your land is provided by driving across an adjoining lot, you should obtain a Right of Access and make sure it is recorded. Find out who maintains the roads and what your pro-rata share might cost for upkeep. What rights do neighbours have to cross your land? Are the boundaries clearly marked?
If your lot is part of a housing estate, refer to the division regulations and specifications. Most of the time, new luxury housing estates require that you conform to strict building regulations. These may increase your costs considerably. Make sure you can afford it. Think about checking whether there really is a housing estate permit in due form.
Once all the matters, financial and otherwise are settled between the parties, a preliminary agreement (not legally certified) is drawn up. This agreement can be done under private signature, that is, between the buyer and the seller. However, in order to guarantee its validity, you are advised to refer to a notary.
Most sellers will require a guarantee deposit, which we would advise you entrust to your solicitor’s safekeeping until the transaction is carried out.
As a general rule, the vendor will choose the notary, since he is the one who will pay for his services. The notary will take the Title Deeds and check with the Registrar General whether or not the land actually belongs to the owner and if the plot has been mortgaged.
Make sure that the land is definitely residential and not agricultural or commercial. Otherwise the deal may become complicated. Mauritius does not have any land registry and that is why one can only trust the vendor’s word. However, you can still rely on some obvious indications: for instance, there is little chance that the plot is residential if it is located in the middle of a sugarcane field. Consult the zoning plans which are kept in district councils - these can be useful.
In towns, there is a semblance land registry enactment. It is easier – yet, make sure that the municipal tax and mains drainage have been previously paid.
Fees to include in your budget
Purchasing or selling land generates administrative costs consisting of: the registration fee, the ’Land Transfer Tax’, and notary fees.
Keep these costs in mind when assessing your budget.
Fees and price index
1. Any buyer shall pay a registration fee of 5% on the amount indicated on the sales contract. Be cautious not to under declare. After each sale, the governement valuation agent goes on site to assess the land. If he considers that the amount stated on the contract is below the estimated the real value of the lot, a fine will be issued. This is 10% of the difference between the contract price and the estimated price given by the government agent.
2. The land transfer tax (eg: the land transfer tax applicable to vendors only) is payable as follows:
5% of the property value if you own the land since more than 5 years.
10% if you own the land for a period of less than 5 years.
3. Notary fees are calculated based on a scale:
2% on the first RS 250 000 of the land sale price.
1.5% on the next RS 500 000.
1% on the next RS 1 000 000.
0.5% on the remaining balance.
VAT and other fees must be added to these amounts.