Rwanda is one of the most promising African nations to pursue real estate investments and developments, but can foreigners buy land in the country?
Yes, foreigners can buy land in Rwanda. To buy land in Rwanda as a foreigner, find a property, inspect the land, validate the proof of ownership, make an offer, leave a deposit, head to the Rwanda “Umurenge” real estate office, and finalize the acquisition.
After extensively researching Rwanda’s real estate laws, I have gathered enough information to determine if foreigners are allowed to buy land. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the legality of buying land in Rwanda to help you make an informed decision with your land acquisition.
- Yes, foreigners can buy land in Rwanda.
- Land prices in Rwanda generally vary from $15 to $70+ per square foot.
- To buy land in Rwanda as a foreigner, find a property, inspect the land, validate the proof of ownership, make an offer, leave a deposit, head to the Rwanda “Umurenge” real estate office, and finalize the acquisition.
Table of Contents
Can Foreigners Buy Land in Rwanda?
The African real estate market has been receiving a lot more attention from outside investors in recent years and for good reason. There are a lot of competitive prices for land, which means that now is the time to get in before the market begins to climb.
However, not all African nations allow foreigners to buy land. Luckily, Rwanda is not one of these countries, as they allow foreigners to acquire real estate relatively easily. To encourage outside investors and international guests, Rwanda has created an accessible market for buying land as a strategic national interest of the country.
Regional and international investments in the country are booming, with a lot of future economic growth on the horizon.
How Much Does Land Cost in Rwanda?
If you are looking for an affordable piece of land, you should keep Rwanda at the top of your list, as there are a lot of strategic investment incentives. This African nation has some of the most attractive land prices you can find, and foreigners are beginning to catch on to the opportunities that exist in Rwanda.
You can find various types of parcels in Rwanda that greatly vary in price and specs. With that said, prices can range from as little as $15 per square foot to upwards of $70+ per square foot.
Buying agricultural land can be very affordable, whereas developed properties will naturally fetch a much higher price. You need to consider your real estate goals when formulating your budget as this will help you narrow down your search options.
While buying a developed property can be much more straightforward, acquiring vacant land to pursue your own build can be financially beneficial. Rwanda has cheap labor and you can often build a home from scratch for a lot less than it costs to buy one pre-built.
With that said, there are plenty of developed properties available on the Rwandan real estate market for $70,000 or less for a single-family residential house. If your budget allows it, you can find decadent and luxurious homes for much more than this. However, if you want to keep costs to a minimum, finding residential land for lower than $70,000 is very realistic, especially if you negotiate.
How to Buy Land in Rwanda
Rwanda has done an excellent job of opening up its real estate market to foreign investors. This has simplified the land-buying process compared to many other nations abroad, which has been a calling for a lot of expats to consider Rwanda as a second home.
The process of buying land in Rwanda is likely not much different from your home country. Regardless, it’s important to go through each step properly to ensure that you do not run into any legal complications down the line. Rwanda is an easy place to buy land, but paperwork and documentation must still be in order to ensure that property transactions are handled properly. This is the process for buying land in Rwanda.
Step 1: Find a Property
Much like with any property acquisition, you need to first find real estate in Rwanda that you like. The market is flooded with attractive parcels, which is why I recommend choosing a specific region to start your search.
Most foreigners tend to look at the capital city of Kigali, as it has some of the most luxurious and well-built homes in Rwanda. Kigali has a strong ex-pat community and you can find a nice home, apartment, or condominium building at a good price.
Granted Kigali may be a more expensive real estate sector compared to smaller towns and rural parts of the country. If you are working with a smaller budget, I suggest looking at the outskirts of Kigali or even another area entirely, as land prices become very affordable the further away you get from the capital. You can find properties on the following real estate platforms in Rwanda:
As always, consider your budget and your real estate goals when evaluating parcels in Rwanda. There are a lot of options to consider, which is why I recommend short-listing the best candidates that meet your goals. While listed prices on the Rwanda real estate market are a good starting point, you can always negotiate to ensure that you don’t breach your budget.
Step 2: Property Inspection
Once you’ve found some solid properties that meet your needs, you can contact the owner to schedule a land inspection. I suggest that you inspect any property that you are considering thoroughly. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered, and you want to ensure that the parcel is up to your standards.
The inspection process can vary depending on the property that you are looking at. For urban dwellings and fully-built homes, confirm the structure is intact and that the building has received routine maintenance and upkeep.
If you are considering rural or agricultural lands, an environmental inspection may be necessary, especially if you want to farm or utilize natural resources. Never rush your inspection and schedule a follow-up if you need to ask more questions or assess the property further.
Step 3: Validate Proof of Ownership
The Rwanda real estate market has been a relatively safe place to do business, but you still want to approach any land acquisition with caution and consideration.
It’s absolutely essential that you validate the proof of ownership of the land before you proceed with purchasing the property. Request that the land owner presents all legal documentation that proves they are the legitimate owner of the property, as this is part of Rwanda’s new land law.
You need to be thorough with validating ownership as the person may just co-own land or the real estate may be part of a land concession.
Step 4: Make an Offer
When it comes to land purchases, negotiating is always on the table. Before you make an offer, I suggest you have a figure in mind for your budget. The best way to do this is to consider your finances and come up with an ideal dollar figure for the property, as well as a final offer number.
Make an offer to the landowner, and work with them to find a price that is agreeable for both parties.
Step 5: Leave Deposit
Once you and the landowner have agreed on a price, you need to leave a deposit to secure the property. The amount that you need to leave for the deposit will vary depending on the price of the real estate.
For land transactions, you should expect to pay around 10% or 20% of the total value of the property. Once the deposit is paid, the acquisition will be temporarily placed on hold until you get all of your affairs and finances in order.
As part of Rwanda’s new land law, the land owner must give you an ‘Agreement of Sale’ contract which will confirm that you have left a deposit for the property.
Step 6: Rwanda Real Estate Administration
The competent authority that governs and sanctions real estate acquisitions in Rwanda is called “Umurenge”.
You need to go to the Umurenge local administration office to finalize the property transaction with the seller. In case there is an update to a land law applied to real estate in Rwanda, the office will notify you of this. Bring the following relevant documents with you to the Umurenge office:
- Agreement of Sale
- Company Registration Papers (if applicable)
The seller will also bring the same personal identification with them such as their ownership papers. After you hand over all documentation to the Umurenge local administration office, they will proceed with finalizing the land acquisition.
If you are working with an international organization, you may be subject to Rwanda’s strict regulatory environment, which will require you to present a business plan, as well as any other information the land officer requests.
Before the real estate transaction can be fully approved, you need to bank transfer the full payment. In addition, if the property title will be shared with your spouse or business partner, you need to have this document notarized and presented to the administration office.
Step 7: Property Acquisition Finalized
Provided that all documentation is in order and the payment went through successfully, the Umurenge office will finalize the property acquisition shortly.
There is a brief waiting period for all real estate transactions in Rwanda, which normally takes around 1 to 2 weeks.
Tips for Buying Land in Rwanda
As a developing African nation, Rwanda is one of the most promising countries on the continent to buy property. The real estate market is not overly competitive and there are a lot of parcels available at reasonable prices.
However, when dealing with any kind of land ownership, it’s important to be calculated with your decision-making. Consider the following tips to ensure a smooth real estate transaction in Rwanda.
There are a lot of aspects of a property that need to be evaluated, and you should know what you are signing up for before you commit to a land purchase.
If you are familiar with buying real estate, you will likely know which basic things to look for such as checking the structure of buildings and the overall conditions of the land. However, it can be very easy to underestimate certain parts of an inspection.
That is why I recommend bringing professionals with you to help inspect the parcel. Hiring an appraiser to confirm the value of a home or an environmental specialist to check the integrity of the land will assure you the property is worth your time and money.
Hire a Lawyer
As an outside investor buying land in a foreign country, you don’t want to run into legal issues in case there is a new land law to be aware of. I highly recommend hiring a lawyer if you have never dealt with a property acquisition in Rwanda to ensure that you adhere to the investment law in the country.
Land law in Rwanda is straightforward, but you should still approach acquisitions with caution and be aware of new or relevant laws. Have a legal personality look over all paperwork and documentation related to the property transaction, as this will guarantee that you avoid potential complications with your land ownership.
Work with a Real Estate Agent
Although it may seem financially beneficial to avoid the commissions that come with hiring a real estate agent, doing so can save you a lot of time and money. Working with a real estate agent is one of the safest ways to handle a property acquisition in Rwanda.
An agent will help you with every step of the buying process and they will take care of the bulk of the legal work, including validating the proof of ownership. If you want a hassle-free experience buying land in Rwanda, a real estate agent is the way to go.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling