When buying a property (stand/house) in Zimbabwe there are a number of issues to look at so as to protect your hard-earned cash. Below are some of them;

1. First determine whether the property you want to buy is held under an agreement of sale (in which case the rights will be transferred to you by cession) or it has title deeds. The difference between the two is significant for a number of reasons. Where the property is held under an agreement of sale the person is not the ‘owner’ of the land in the legal sense, what he/she has are personal rights to the land. When one buys this land, the rights to the land are transferred to him/her through cession. This is usually the case with most houses in Chitungwiza and other smaller towns. In Harare this is common in Highfields, Mufakose and Mabvuku. On the other hand, where the person who is selling you the land has a title deed he/she is the owner of the land in the legal sense. It is wise to engage a lawyer who can help you understand the nature of the prospective seller’s rights in the land.

2. Where the land is held under a title deed and even if you are shown the original title deed there is need for verification with the Deeds Registry on a number of issues. A deeds search (preferably done on your behalf by a lawyer) will detect mortgage bonds, caveats and other endorsements, if any. You also need to physically see the land being sold and the identity of the seller. Where the rights in the land are to be transferred to you through cession, you need to have sight of the agreement which gives the seller rights in the land. You also need to check with the person or institution which will process the cession for example the council. In some cases there may be conditions for cession to go through.

3. The next stage is to have an agreement of sale drafted and this is better left to legal practitioners. Important terms include whether the purchase price is inclusive of value added tax (where applicable), mode and manner of payment, the stage at which risk will pass, date of occupation and variation of the contract.

4. Where the land is held under a title deed, the process of change of ownership is done through the Deeds Registry Office by a conveyancer. It is the seller who chooses the conveyancer and parties may put a clause in the contract specifying the conveyancing law firm. The buyer will have to pay the conveyancing fees whilst the seller pays the capital gains tax unless there is an exemption. Under cession, the Deeds Office is not involved but the parties simply attend at the council or developer’s offices where cession forms are signed. Cession fees are usually charged.

5. In Zimbabwe marriages are out of community of property. This means that each party in a marriage can independently own or have rights in a property. They can do whatever they want with the property without consulting their spouse unless the property is registered in both their names. Where parties are married they must be alive to this principle when buying a house. Note however that upon divorce the assets of the parties are distributed in terms of the Matrimonial Causes Act.
The contents of this article are for general information purposes only and do not constitute our legal or professional advice. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature which may arise from reliance on any of the information published herein.
Copyright © Marume & Furidzo Legal Practitioners 2018


  1. Belinda Sharples

    What recourse does a seller have when the buyer takes occupation after paying for the property but then fails to transfer ownership. Tax clearance and rates clearance but buyer refuses to pay conveyancing fees or to transfer ownership. Has occupation and paid in full but does not own the property?

  2. Arthur Jerenyenje

    the key element is the change of ownership part. you can not lay claim on any property that documents do not prove is yours. that is why it is important for the buyer to verify ownership of the seller and then ensure the smooth exchange of ownership into their name, then they can claim ownership

  3. Jabulani

    Hi. I bought land from the City of Bulawayo and they keep saying we cant build because they ddnt service the plots. I need help either by law. What does the Zimbabwe laws say about this. Its almost two years nw.

  4. Anotida Chikumbu

    Thank you. This was helpful. I am a land developer and Real Estate owner. I get so many questions from my clients with regards to the properties I buy and sell.


    Helpful indeed.

  6. wallace

    Very helpful.thank you very much. it helps when we deal with clients

  7. Zenda

    Can you sell land that you inherited without going for estate, only agreement of sale, developer cession. I am the only beneficiary?

  8. Precious

    I wanted to ask about mortgages. Currently, there is a property that I am interested in and I have put in an offer via the agent. However the agent was reluctant to put my offer forward as my method of payment will be via a mortgage. Am i right to believe that a higher percentage of properties in Zimbabwe are therefore bought via cash only? Why are sellers put off by the mortgage payment plan?

  9. Patrick Nyathi

    Kindly assist. I purchased a house from my uncle who unfortunately passed on before drawing up an agreement of sale. However ,he had given me the title deeds. He left behind a will in which he did not include the house under discussion. How do I change ownership ?

  10. Rudo Mateko

    Hw do I get security for a cesfion withheld because the cedent is still in office as a Councillor and can only do so wen out of office or at end of term

      • Jon doe

        Is there anyway I can expedite the process of obtaining my deeds?
        I bought a piece of land 2 years ago and I’m desperate to secure a building mortgage to start building.
        Seller is still awaiting capital gains certificate from zimra.
        I need my deeds processed ASAP as I want to start building via the mortgage route,
        Which obviously I can’t do without those deeds!
        Seller is blaming zimra for delaying!
        2 years is rather too long to be waiting for documentation.

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