Sunday, December 12, 2010

Own 25 acres, Pay for 200 acres !!

One of the lands that we visited during our long search was a 200 acre farm land near Batlagundu. The area in and around Batlagundu is absolutely gorgeous and is nestled in the Western Ghats. It is in the foothills of Kodai Kanal and enjoys good weather round the year. Omnipresent banana plantations in the area add to the greenery and beauty of Batlagundu.

We visited this particular land with one broker (we will call him ‘K’). The land looked fairly fertile with blood red soil and very few rocks. It had pebbles distributed evenly across the land but that was not deemed to be an issue. The land shared its Western border with a hillock and there were dry water pathways visible on the hillside. At the bottom of the hill there were multiple bunds for capturing and storing the rain water during the monsoons.

Overall, a good piece of land with a reasonable asking price, good access to the town and most importantly, contiguous in shape. It was almost like the ideal piece of land one could have. As we reviewed the records, we discovered that the owner (who was a Madras High Court lawyer) owned only 25 acres of Patta land and the rest was Peromboke and Gramam (Govt and village land). The patta land did not have direct access to the road and was surrounded by village grazing lands. On questioning the legality of sale of this farmland, Village Administrative Officer (VAO) stated that I could technically use the Peromboke and Gramam lands but could not own it or take loans on them. The most intriguing part was that the total sale amount was based on 200 acres and not 25 acres. I did not want to get into such an arrangement since there is often volatility in the village administration which can impact regulations related to use of government and village lands.

On questioning K about the bogus land he was marketing, he was left clueless. I think he was genuinely clueless and not pretending to be since we had common friends in the social circle. The problem is that very few real estate brokers do the due diligence. Often times, effort and money is spent only to reveal that the land is disputed or does not have a clear title. It was sad that this deal could not go through since everything was perfect except the paperwork.

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