How to Buy Property in Malawi? Can Foreigners Buy Land in Malawi?

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Buy property in Malawi with peace of heart, read  to the end. I hope you know what the term “property” means. In regards to real estate property is either land or building.

Can Foreigners Buy Land in Malawi?

No.  Foreigners are not allowed to acquire property in Malawi. Foreign investors are instead encouraged to make partnerships with Malawians in order to acquire property.

Only Malawian citizens are allowed to buy property in Malawi.  The law allows any Malawian to buy land in Malawi without any discrimination. Land laws in Malawi do not discriminate. They equally apply for men and women, married and single.  As long as one can afford to buy any land on sale, they are free to do so.

Acquiring property is capital intensive. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Speaking from experience, anyone would tell you, buying land in Malawi is a complex process. Sometimes it’s both risky and cumbersome. Therefore, any buyer is warned to act with prudence.

buy property in Malawi

This guide is yours, if you would want to buy property in Malawi. Details within this post will  help you have a vivid picture on how to acquire land in Malawi.

Without wasting time, below are the three categories of property in Malawi. These are government land, public land, and private land.

Government Land

Firstly, we have government land. This is land which the government privately owns. It is land set aside for national activities. It is reserved for government buildings. This land is reserved for construction of hospitals, schools, and other projects by government agencies.

Public land

Secondly, there is public land which is held in trust and managed by government or traditional authority.

The land is openly accessible to the public. It includes places like national parks, forests reserve and cultural sites.

Additionally, public land includes all abandoned land, unusable land, dambos’ and communal grazing areas.

Private Land

Then there is private registered land. Under private lands there are two distinctions.

Firstly, there is freehold tenure. In this case owner has exclusive rights over the land. There are no term limits in ownership.

And no developments are imposed on the owner when developing the land. Also owner has the right to subdivide or lease the land.

Then there is customary land (customary estate). This is land under the jurisdiction of a Traditional Authority (T/A).

Such land is given to a person or persons under customary laws. Customary land is given to citizens only. No written documentation is required.

10 Steps to follow when  buying property in Malawi

Malawi has a raking of 95 out of 190 economies on ease of buying land (World Bank Doing Business in Malawi 2017). Mmmh! Not too bad!

The process to acquire property in Malawi involves several steps. As indicated in the next paragraphs.

1. Decide on location and your budget

Firstly, decide on how much you want to spend in buying desired property. Then identify your preferred location. These two will help you to be clear and focused on what you want to do.

2. Hire a lawyer and an estate agent

Is it mandatory?

Well! It depends.

Hiring a lawyer is an option. So as is hiring an estate agent.

You may do all the process of buying without a lawyer or an agent.

However, services of a lawyer and a trusted agent may be required sometimes.

3. Search for the perfect property

With the help of family or friends you start searching for the property to buy. Alternatively, you’ve an agent to do this on for you. Make sure you physically recommend the property before making payments. Verify such things like dimensions, location, water, and availability of electricity.

4. Investigate the seller

Verify the identities of the seller. Know whether the seller is the owner of the property or not.

Verification of ownership prevents from buying property with conflicts. If the person selling you is not the owner ensure that he/she has authority to sell the property.

It is very common for dubious vendors to sell a property to multiple buyers. Sometimes these vendors sell property which isn’t theirs. Be alert.

When buying customary land the chiefs of the area may help provide evidence of property ownership. So it’s good to ask them.

5. Make Payments

Next step is issuing of payment. Now that you’ve checked the property, investigate the owner it’s time to pay the agreed amount.

Buyers mostly make payment   in presence of two to three witnesses from both parties. They also include the chief to sign. Buying land without title ends here.

In order to be legally recognized as the property owner you have to register the property. In the next paragraphs the required steps to register a property Malawi.

Buy property in Malawi

Flow diagram buying land in Malawi
Source: Ministry of Lands

6. Title Deed

Registration of title deed is done under the Registered Lands Act. The registration of title is deed is done at the Lands registry after payment. The required fee to register property is MK5, 000.

7. Obtain City Rates Clearance Certificate

After registering the title deed, next is to apply for city rates clearance certificate. The Chief Executive of the city is signs city rates clearance certificate upon payment of K500 application fee.

8. Apply to Ministry of Lands for consent to transfer property

The application for consent attracts a fee of K5000

9. Tax Clearance Certificate

Apply for a tax clearance certificate from Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). No fees required. At MRA you are required to submit the following documents

  • Original title deed
  • Sale – purchase agreement
  • Evaluation report from a certified evaluator

10. Registration at the Deeds Registry

Finally, you have to apply for the registration of the title deed. You must submit the following;

  • Stamped deed
  • Tax clearance certificate

Over to you.



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