REALWorld Law

Sale and purchase

Effective transfer of ownership

How is a lawful and proper transfer of title to real estate to a purchaser effected?

Angola

Angola

The transfer of title must be executed by means of a public deed.

Australia

Australia

The transfer of real estate to a purchaser is recorded in writing on prescribed statutory forms and lodged with the state or territory government department responsible for maintaining the register of land ownership.

Belgium

Belgium

Transfer of title is effected through the signature of the sale and purchase agreement.

In order to be binding, vis-à-vis third parties, the public notary who submits the deeds to the Administration of Legal Security must notarize the transfer of title. The transfer of ownership can only be protected against claims by a third party when the deed has been registered in the Administration of Legal Security.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The sale contract must be concluded in the form of a notarial deed.

Canada

Canada

The transfer of real estate to a purchaser is recorded in writing on prescribed statutory transfer forms and lodged with the provincial or territorial government department responsible for maintaining the register of land ownership.

China

China

A lawful and proper transfer of a land use right is effected where the transfer is registered with, and the transferee is entered in the registry of, the relevant local land bureau at municipality or county level.

Croatia

Croatia

Transfer of real estate must be based on title and the appropriate process. The sale contract must be concluded in writing, with the signature of the seller certified by a public notary, and the title must be registered in the land register.

For this purpose, the seller must consent to the transfer of the real estate to be registered by the competent court. Consent must also be given in writing and certified by a public notary (unless consent has already been included in the sale agreement).

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

The transfer of title to a buyer is effective when it is registered in the Cadastral Register of the Czech Republic. All transfer documents are subject to review by the relevant cadastral office, which examines whether the legal requirements of the transfer have been met. The registration with the cadastral register is effective as at the time of application for registration. Registration is not required for very small or specialised constructions, such as fences, walls etc.

Denmark

Denmark

Almost all properties are registered in the Land Registry, Tingbogen (the records are now kept in digital form). Denmark has quite a complex, nationwide land registration system with a Court of Registration situated in Hobro, Jutland. In short, land registration allows for the public registration of property ownership, mortgages and securities and the protection of legal rights.

All information in the register is available to the public. To register a right, the parties must make an application referring to the contract or a written deed to the Court of Registration. Both the seller and the buyer must sign the deed.

France

France

The legal stages of a transfer comprise an initial ‘promise to sell’ (promesse de vente), after which, if all the relevant conditions precedent are met satisfactorily (eg waiver applicable pre-emption rights), the parties will conclude a formal deed of sale before a notary public.

Germany

Germany

Once a sale and purchase agreement is concluded in a notarial deed, the notary applies for registration of the change of ownership at the local court holding the land register for the property in question. Transfer of ownership takes place when the change of ownership has been registered in the land register.

Until such registration a buyer is only protected if a priority notice of conveyance is registered in his favour. This is usually included in the sale and purchase agreement. A priority notice is registered in the land register before the change of ownership is registered and is usually a pre-condition for the payment of the purchase price to the seller. If a priority notice is registered, any change in the land register which endangers the buyer's acquisition of title is invalid.

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

As between the Government and the purchaser (usually a developer), a contract called "Conditions of Sale" or "Conditions of Exchange" (as the case may be) is executed. This has the effect of giving the purchaser a mere conditional right. Upon actual compliance with all the positive conditions in the contract, this right will be converted into a form of legal ownership and the purchaser becomes the holder of the legal title.

In a common sale and purchase transaction, a transfer is executed by a formal document called a "deed" which passes the legal rights over and interests in the land from the vendor to the purchaser. The sale and purchase agreement and the assignment together with a record in the prescribed form called a "memorial" is registered at the Land Registry.

Hungary

Hungary

After a sale and purchase agreement is entered into, an application for the registration of the change of ownership is to be submitted to the appropriate land registry office. The transfer of ownership takes place when registration is completed by the land registry office.

Since registration of the transfer of ownership requires the consent of the seller (usually granted once final payment of the purchase price has been received), the buyer may seek a court order for consent or the court may grant consent itself if it has been unlawfully withheld by the seller.

Ireland

Ireland

Title to real estate is transferred by means of a deed, a legal document which is signed and delivered by the parties as evidence of the agreement.

Italy

Italy

The deed of transfer must be made in writing and authenticated by a public notary in order to be recorded in the Real Estate Register (Conservatoria dei Registri Immobiliari). Preliminary contracts must take the same form as the final deed of transfer and therefore must also be in writing.

The transfer of title is effective immediately on the signing of the sale agreement.

Japan

Japan

Transfer of ownership is effected through an intended agreement between the purchaser and the seller, evidenced by the execution of a written sale and purchase agreement.

Netherlands

Netherlands

The purchase agreement forms the basis of the transfer deed. This deed is signed by all parties and executed by the Dutch civil law notary, who then submits a certified copy to the Land Registry. With the registration of this certified copy the transfer is complete.

Nigeria

Nigeria

The transfer of title and interests in real property is required by law to be in writing and by deed duly executed by the parties. The parties to the transfer transaction are required to fill and sign the relevant forms of application for consent of the Governor to alienate the interests in real property along with a formal application for registration of the interests.

The payments of applicable statutory transaction taxes and transfer fees such as Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty, Consent and Registration fee and other outstanding land charges are required for the registration of the transfer Deeds to lawfully vest title in the real property to the purchaser.

Norway

Norway

Once the purchase agreement is concluded the transfer of ownership takes effect at law. The purchaser must subsequently apply for a concession from the local authorities within 4 weeks from the transfer date. Even though it is not a legal requirement, a deed of transfer is also usually filed with the Land Register to protect against claims by third parties and to avoid potential disputes with subsequent buyers.

Poland

Poland

Under Polish law, the lawful and proper transfer to a purchaser of title to real estate requires conclusion of the transaction in the form of a notarial deed and registration by an entry in the land and mortgage register (ksiegi wieczyste).

Portugal

Portugal

Transfer of real estate can be executed through the execution of a public deed with a public or private notary or through an authenticated private document. Subsequently, the transaction should be duly registered with the relevant Land Registry Office.

Romania

Romania

The transfer of title to real estate can generally be validly and lawfully effected through:

  • The execution by the parties of a transfer agreement which must be authenticated by a notary public
  • A public tender procedure
  • Adverse possession
  • Inheritance
  • Accession
  • Donation
  • Court ruling

In order for title to be enforceable against third parties, all real estate must be registered in the registers (“Land Books”) kept by the Office for Cadastre and Real Estate Publicity. However, failure to register the transfer of the title with the relevant Land Book does not affect the validity of the transfer.

However, once a cadastral scheme is completed for every local government unit, property rights over real estate will be acquired only by registration of the transfer agreement in the Land Book.

Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

Pursuant to the Civil Code, if an immovable asset (ie plots of land, buildings) is to be transferred under a contract, the ownership shall be acquired upon the registration in the Cadastral Registry under the special regulations, unless a special act stipulates otherwise. Registration is not required in case of very small or specialized constructions, such as fences or engineering networks.

Spain

Spain

The transfer of the title of ownership to property usually takes place once the relevant public deed of sale and purchase has been entered into by the parties. According to Spanish Law for acquiring a title of ownership to a property, it is necessary not only that the parties sign a sale and purchase agreement but also that the property is delivered to the purchaser, which usually occurs by granting the corresponding sale and purchase public deed. The execution of the sale and purchase public deed represents the delivery of the property to the buyer.

In contrast to other EU countries, registration of the transfer of the title to real estate at the Land Registry in Spain has only a declarative character. Registration takes around three weeks. 

Sweden

Sweden

A buyer of real estate must file an application for registration of ownership with the Land Survey Authority within three months of the purchase in order to obtain a certificate of registration of title. The sale and purchase agreement or the bill of sale must be attached to the application. The buyer is considered to be the rightful owner of the real estate as soon as the transfer is registered.

Thailand

Thailand

Under the Civil and Commercial Code, a sale of land or real estate must be made in writing on the official form of the Land Department and be registered with the competent official at the relevant land office which the land or real estate is situated.

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

Within Abu Dhabi and outside the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone

The transfer of real estate to a purchaser must be recorded at the Land Registration Department of Abu Dhabi (LRD). Purchasers’ interests under contracts for sale cannot be registered.

Personal attendance by all the parties involved (eg buyer, seller, mortgagee or real estate broker) is required at the LRD to complete the process of approval and registration of the sale contract. A party not able to attend in person may appoint a representative by using a power of attorney, either executed before a notary in Abu Dhabi or executed overseas and authenticated and legalised for use in the UAE.

The parties must sign the relevant standard forms at the LRD and manager’s cheques are commonly used to pay the purchase price and are required to pay the fees arising from a transfer of ownership. Written consent is likely to be required from any person with a security interest over the property being sold and from any occupiers of the property to confirm they are vacating.

Additional documents will be required by the LRD depending on the nature of the transaction. For transfer of real estate within a master community, a no-objection certificate will be required from the master developer and this will only be issued if all service or community charges have been paid up to date by the seller and if there are no outstanding issues such as breach of community rules and regulations. If the real estate being transferred is a plot of land to be developed then no-objection certificates are also likely to be required form the Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority and the relevant telecommunications authority.

Following attendance at the LRD, the application to transfer is processed. This may be completed on the same day or within a few days. Upon completion the LRD issues a new title certificate in the name of the purchaser. If the purchaser has granted a mortgage over the property, then the LRD will issue the original title deed to the mortgagee.

There are special provisions relating to off-plan sales.

Within the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone

In the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone (ADGM), real estate interests that are recognised by the ADGM must be registered in the ADGM Land Register. Agreements to create conveyances must also be registered. It is the grantor’s responsibility to register the conveyance. The obligation is on the grantor of the conveyance to register it, Registration fees are 2% of the total value of the interest being conveyed (subject to no maximum level). Conveyances should be executed in the English language and, if not, a translation into English should be provided.

An interest which is required to be registered does not convey an interest in real property until the instrument is registered.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

A transfer must take place by first applying to the Dubai Land Department (DLD) through one of its trust offices in Dubai. Each party to the transfer (eg seller, purchaser or mortgagee) has to attend at the trust office in person, or appoint a duly authorised representative to attend on its behalf, using a power of attorney valid in the UAE. The parties sign the relevant DLD forms and provide the necessary manager's cheques for payment of the DLD registration and transfer fees. 

Depending on the nature of the transaction, the DLD may require one or more 'no objection certificates' from any relevant third parties. For example, the master developer of a community usually has to provide a 'no objection certificate' when a unit within the relevant community is being transferred from one party to another, and such a certificate will not be issued if there are any service charge fees outstanding.

Other parties from whom a 'no objection certificate' may be required by the DLD (usually in the case of plot sales, rather than the sale of completed buildings/units) include the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and the relevant telecommunications company.

Following attendance at the DLD, the application for transfer will be processed and a new title certificate will be issued to the purchaser. If the land is mortgaged, the original title deed will be issued to the bank.

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

The transfer of real estate to a purchaser must be recorded in writing on a form specified by HM Land Registry.

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

By registration. It is absolutely essential that the disposition (the deed transferring the title to real estate) is registered in the Land Register of Scotland to ensure the buyer has legally transferred the title.

Ukraine

Ukraine

All transactions dealing with a transfer of the ownership of real estate should be notarized. Ownership of land and real estate is subject to mandatory state registration in the State Register of Proprietary Rights over Immovable Property.

As from 1 January 2013, ownership rights over real estate (including land) are valid once the ownership right is registered in the State Register of Proprietary Rights over Immovable Property by the state registrar. This may be either by

  • State registrar of the executive body of the municipality and legal entities authorized by Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, or
  • A notary
United States

United States

Fee ownership is transferred by a deed complying with the requirements of applicable state law.  Easements are transferred by written agreement

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

A draft deed is prepared together with a power of attorney to pass transfer and the declarations for signing by buyer and seller. The seller applies for a rates clearance certificate to the local authority under whose jurisdiction the property falls. The seller must also apply for a capital gains tax clearance certificate from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA). After an assessment is completed by ZIMRA, the seller is required to make payment for capital gains tax and obtains a CGT certificate. The transfer documents are then lodged for registration of title with the Registrar of Deeds Office.