By Chris Nii Abbosey
In the previous article, thus the Part 1 of this series, we touched on what surveying is and who a surveyor is.
We established that being one of the oldest professions in the world and even in Ghana, the profession has evolved to have many roles and divisions in every aspect of national development.
According to a global body like the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, there are more than 100 varied career roles across the surveying profession in three main sectors: construction and infrastructure; property; and land.
However, Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS), the umbrella professional body in Ghana puts them in three divisions; thus Land Surveying, Land and Estate Valuation and Quantity Surveying.
With respect to the significance of a surveyor in acquiring a landed property, it was clear that the surveyor helps to ensure a good background is done on a property to avoid litigation and being defrauded.
Ensure the property has the right dimension both on paper and on land: Every property has a location, mostly on land. In some cases though, the property may be on a water body though. The property or land irrespective of size will have a definite dimension, thus length, shape, height, depth, etc.
With a surveyor in your corner, be sure that he can be able to do the measurements, analysis, and verification to ensure the property of interest is the exact same one.
There have been many instances when people have bought a plot of land that was, for instance, 100*70 ft on the documents, however in actual terms it was less; 85*70 or 90*60 among others. Other times the location of the land as shown may be several meters away or even in another person’s plot.
In the case of landed property (building), the surveyor helps to ensure that every building on the land is the same as documented in addition to the dimension of the land itself.
Boundary Determination: One major contributor to land dispute is encroachment which is usually due to poorly demarcated boundaries. When a property has the boundary clearly demarcated and established it prevents encroachment and other effects of land disputes, like death.
It is easy for a vendor to tell you where his boundaries are, however until that can be established by all appropriate parameters, including documentation, tread cautiously. The role of the surveyor is critical in this regard; as he is able to cross-check the boundaries of all other properties near yours to ensure you are in the right position and secure same to prevent encroachment and any dispute whatsoever.
Verification and Authentication of Documents: For the fact that the surveyor is able to measure, map and locate properties, he or she is able to authenticate and validate property documents or deeds. The deed document which has the site plan, indenture, vesting assent; where necessary among others, is not something that can easily be authenticated.
It takes the surveyor who has been trained and frequently using these documents to verify the authenticity of such documents. In Ghana, the documentation of land keeps changing. Today some land documents have bar codes among others, while others do not; depending on the location of the land. Some lands require deed registered documents while others require land title registration. The surveyor is able to help you know which is appropriate to prevent being given the wrong land document.
Securing the Right Registration Document: As mentioned above, there is deed registration and land title registration. The process of acquiring them differ, hence having the surveyor assist you is the best way to ensure you have the right one. Land registration although has improved over the years is still somewhat complex depending on the history and status of the land. Some land registration processes are straightforward. Others are not. To avoid having to spend money to do the wrong thing, why not have the surveyor help you do the right thing.
There was property documentation that had the owner dead. After the children agreed to have the letter of administration done, they sold the property to the client. When he contacted him, I alerted our surveyor to authenticate the indenture which the client wanted to register.
Upon careful assessment the surveyor advised a vesting assent be done by our lawyer in addition to the letter of administration. That is what prevented other family members who also had letters of administration from selling the property to another client.
Guaranteed Purchase: Not all lands are appropriate for certain purposes. The fact that buying land is a good investment does not mean every land is ideal for what you may want to use it for. Hence, the work of the surveyor before a transaction prevents one from making the costly mistake of buying a property that has no use to you. It guarantees that you get what you are paying for. This is cheaper than realizing that what you have bought is nowhere near the value that you have paid and not useful for the purpose you bought it for.
These processes are difficult for people to follow through. That is why Real Estate Companies like CBC Properties are available. They work with qualified and licensed surveyors and lawyers to secure all their lands and properties, so they can be able to offer clients litigation-free properties. Surveyors play a key role in the Real Estate industry. Without them, the spate of land litigation will be worse. Nonetheless, beware and deal with the right surveyors and Real Estate firms to prevent any regrets. The best way to verify the authenticity of a surveyor in Ghana is to check their credentials on the website of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS) or Licensed Surveyors Association of Ghana (LISAG)
Story By: Chris Nii Abbosey