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Home » Important Things To Know Before Buying A Property In Gambia As A Foreigner

Important Things To Know Before Buying A Property In Gambia As A Foreigner

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Can foreigners buy property in the Gambia?

The Gambia gives international buyers of real estate most of the same rights to own property that they would have at home. In the Gambia, foreigners have the same protections as citizens of the British legal system concerning property rights, including the ability to own property and start a business. Foreigners may also buy and sell land.

In the Gambia, issues with property ownership can cost you tens of thousands of Dalasis, pounds, euros, or dollars in excessive taxes and legal fees both during your lifetime and after your death. As this choice requires knowledge of both the local and your own legal, tax, and inheritance systems, we will be pleased to assist you in making it.

What type of property investments can foreigners buy in the Gambia?

In the Gambia, foreigners are allowed to lease or own a home, a community, a privateproperty, or a piece of state-owned land. Building a home, purchasing land, or owning property in the Gambia does not require formal permission from abroad. In the Gambia, there are no limitations on the structure of a foreigner’s legal property ownership. Foreigners investing in, developing or constructing residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural land and properties in The Gambia are not subject to any particular regulations.

There are certain limitations, though. According to the State Lands Act (1991), foreigners are only permitted access to residential land for a term of no more than 21 years, and the size of the property cannot be greater than 2,500 square meters. Foreigners cannot be granted a lease or an assignment for undeveloped non-residential land.

What are the limitations On Land & Property Ownership?

In the Gambia, there are three divisions of land types: freehold, customary tenure, and leasehold. The historical precedent of the British system served as the inspiration for the concept of freehold land tenure. For a variety of reasons, this system granted freehold lands to people and businesses. When people have freehold land tenure, they own the land outright and the government is not allowed to control how it is divided up or used.

The origins of the customary system of land tenure can be traced to cultural customs and sharia law. In the provinces, the traditional system of land tenure is used. In the past, under this arrangement, the owner of unclaimed land in the Gambia was whoever set foot on it first. As a result, the person who claimed the land assumed control over it and served as the de facto “Alkalo.” The property can then be passed down from generation to generation as inheritance land. These lands can be rented out to tenants and are typically used for family and tribal clan subsistence cultivation.

“An arrangement where the proprietor gives the land to someone else to use temporarily in exchange for rent,” according to the leasehold land tenure system. The 1990 Lands Act specifies that land owned by the Gambia government may only be leased for a maximum of 99 years. With conditions, the tenant pays rent to the government in exchange for the right to occupy and maintain the property for the duration of the lease. The Department of Lands and Surveys, which is a division of Regional Administration and Lands, is responsible for creating the lease. By formally signing the lease, the Ministry of Local Government & Lands is declared to be the property’s landlord. The central government receives the administrative costs associated with land transfer and registration. The price for each property transfer varies according to the size of the parcel. Within two years after the lease’s start, tenants must begin construction on the property. If these requirements are not completed, the state has the authority to seize the property and transfer it to another individual.

3 Tips for Buying From Agents & Developers

Most buyers of real estate use the aid of an estate agent to assist them in finding a property. Of course, the majority of estate agents are trustworthy, but this isn’t always the case. Regardless of how trustworthy and helpful they may be, you must keep in mind that they only get paid if the property sells, and they are unable to provide you with independent legal advice.

When you find a property you want to purchase, you’ll almost probably be required to sign a reservation or preliminary purchase contract of some kind. It is often best to hold off on signing anything until your lawyer has reviewed it. Before using the estate agent’s “own” lawyer, exercise extreme caution.

Are there mortgage options?

The four major banks in the nation still control the majority of the financial services market. Currently, there are 12 commercial banks, one of which is Islamic, and 70 non-bank financial entities. Major banks continue to use technology to reach the most rural areas of the nation through payment platforms, mobile money transfers, and money transfer organizations to promote financial inclusion and penetration. Even thoughthe majority of microfinance institutions do not offer housing loans or mortgages, they have a significant impact on the financial services industry. This has significantly enhanced banking penetration, which was only 35% nationwide before. In 2021, licenses were granted to two new Islamic microfinance organizations: YONNA Islamic Microfinance and Approved Services (APS) Islamic Microfinance.

The financial industry is still highly profitable, very fluid, and well-capitalized despite the pandemic. The liquidity ratio is 64.25, which is significantly more than the statutory limit of 30 percent, and the risk-weighted capital adequacy ratio is at 31.8 percent, exceeding the statutory threshold of 10 percent (as of the end of March 2021). The pandemic’s effects were restricted to one major bank, three minor banks, and three microfinance organizations (MFIs). Even if the percentage of non-performing loans (NPLs) in total loans climbed to 6.8% by the end of 2020, the level of provisions maintained at a reasonable 85 percent. Despite certain MFIs’ balance sheets becoming worse due to the pandemic, rising NPLs, and declining profitability, the subsector remained well-capitalized and liquid and contributed to the expansion of mobile banking, which facilitated financial intermediation and access.

The only financial institution with a CBG license to offer mortgage housing finance loans to the general public is The Home Finance Company of The Gambia Limited (HFC). Even though they are not permitted to refer to them as mortgages, the company’s services are identical to those given by large banks. As of July 2021, the HFC had 49 mortgages in its portfolio, which is incredibly little. When compared to the whole construction finance loan portfolio for the banking industry, which is estimated to be D2 284 420 000 (US$44 684 980), the total portfolio of around D40.4 million (US$790 254) is negligible. The mortgage packages offered by the HFC typically finance up to 70% of the value of the property payable over a maximum of 15 years. Up until June 2020, when it dropped to 15%, the corporation kept its mortgage interest rate at 17%. Non-performing loans (NPLs), which made up over 21% of the company’s credit portfolio as of June 2021, are still a problem for the business. Development is hampered because of the above-average NPL ratio of less than 5% and the insufficient capital inflow, which prioritizes portfolio growth above recovery.

The Social Security and Homes Finance Corporation (SSHFC) is still the sole federal agency required to help middle-class people find affordable housing. Depending on where the property is located, these mortgages have terms between 4 and 15 years and need a minimum down payment of roughly 20 percent. The SSHFC hasn’t started any new housing construction in the last few years, which has harmed the supply of affordable housing in the nation. The NAFUGAN project, which will build 700 housing units through site and service improvements, is what the organization is planning. By the end of 2020, it had over 7,000 customers and D175 000 000 ($3 423 132) worth of outstanding mortgages. About 20% of the outstanding mortgage portfolio is made up of bad debts. The SSHFC mortgage portfolio is far larger than the HFC portfolio depicted above, but it is also considerably smaller than the banking industry’s construction loans.

For both HFC and SSHFC, the effects of COVID-19 have had an influence on debt collection and the number of bad debts. However, during this time both organizations reduced repayment requirements, temporarily halted foreclosure, and exempted some suffering clients from interest payments.

Can I buy agricultural land in the Gambia?

The most significant aspect of the Gambian economy is agriculture, which is also one of the areas that have to be developed most urgently in the current global environment of rising food and oil prices. In The Gambia, agriculture is a key factor in economic growth. It employs 75% of the labor force and contributes around one-fourth of GDP. In 2017, The Gambia’s GDP derived almost 20% of its total income from agriculture. Agricultural sector output is increasing significantly, although barely half of the nation’s food demands are now being met.

Crop yields are often low, averaging 1.5 tons per hectare on average, compared to other nations where an estimated 3–4 tons per hectare are produced for grains, excluding rice, while yields of up to 6 tons per hectare have been recorded elsewhere.

Local farmers mostly raise peanuts (groundnuts), rice, millet, and sorghum. Mangoes and cashews are the two principal fruits produced. While rice is the staple crop, these are also the main cash crops. Only 430,000 Ha, or around 38 percent of the nation’s total land area, is arable. A key objective of the National Development Plan (2018–2021) is agriculture.

With fresh water from the River Gambia, rains that can be collected, and fossil water that can be drilled, The Gambia has a lot of potential for irrigated agriculture. Additionally, it has a weather pattern that is generally always appropriate for manufacturing. A serious investor who wants to invest and operate in support of the government’s efforts to grow the sector may do so without any difficulty, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, which has a responsibility to develop and modernize agriculture.

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