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Understand the Contrat de Vente

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When it comes to buying real estate in Cameroon, making sure you fully grasp the property sales contract is essential.

Indeed, not fully understanding the document you will sign can lead to financial losses, including the forfeiture of deposits, payment of penalties, unexpected costs, legal expenses, and potential poor investment decisions.

We've heard countless stories of people making costly mistakes when signing their property agreement in Cameroon. We want to help you avoid the same experience.

We'll give here a very brief overview regarding the property sales contract in Cameroon ; if you want a full checklist, please check our property pack for Cameroon.

What is the Contrat de Vente / Accord de Vente in Cameroon?

In Cameroon, the property purchase agreement, locally known as "Contrat de Vente" or "Accord de Vente," is a crucial document in real estate transactions.

This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the property sale, including details about the buyer, seller, property, price, and any other agreed-upon conditions.

The property purchase agreement is indeed legally binding. It serves as a formal commitment from both the buyer and the seller, ensuring that both parties adhere to the terms of the sale.

For the buyer, it's a guarantee that the seller is committed to selling the property at the agreed price and conditions. For the seller, it ensures that the buyer is obligated to purchase the property under the agreed terms.

For international buyers or non-residents, there aren't usually specific regulations in the purchase agreement itself, but they may face additional legal and administrative procedures when purchasing property in Cameroon. This can include requirements for permits, additional verification processes, or tax implications.

Typically, the property purchase agreement in Cameroon is signed after initial negotiations are completed and both parties have agreed on the sale's terms. It's often preceded by a preliminary agreement or a reservation agreement, which might involve a deposit.

The deposit amount can vary, but it's usually a percentage of the purchase price, often around 10%. This deposit serves as a sign of good faith and commitment to the transaction.

In comparison to other countries, the property purchase agreement in Cameroon might have similarities in terms of its legal binding nature and the basic principles of property transactions.

However, the specifics of legal requirements, the process, and additional procedures can differ significantly, especially regarding land rights, registration processes, and the involvement of local authorities.

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What should be included in the property purchase agreement in Cameroon?

In Cameroon, the property purchase agreement, also known as "Contrat de Vente" in French, is governed by the OHADA (Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires) Uniform Act on General Commercial Law.

This act, along with Cameroon's national laws, sets out the requirements for such agreements.

A typical property purchase agreement in Cameroon should contain several key elements:

Key Element Description

Identification of Parties

Full names and details of both the buyer and seller.

Description of the Property

A detailed description of the property, including its location, size, and any other relevant characteristics.

Purchase Price and Payment Terms

The agreed-upon price and how it will be paid, including any installment plans.

Transfer of Ownership

Conditions under which the ownership will be transferred from the seller to the buyer.


Signatures of both parties involved in the transaction.

Mandatory clauses often include:

- The seller must guarantee that the property has a clear title, free of any encumbrances or liens.

- The seller is required to disclose any known defects of the property.

Additional clauses might cover aspects like:

- Details about how taxes, utility bills, and other expenses will be adjusted between the buyer and seller.

- Clauses relating to any planned developments or changes to the property or surrounding area.

Conditions or contingencies can include:

- Allowing the buyer to conduct property inspections.

- The agreement might be contingent upon the buyer obtaining financing.

- Ensuring all legal requirements for the sale are met.

In terms of authentication, the law in Cameroon requires that property purchase agreements be authenticated by a notary. This ensures the legality of the document and the accuracy of the information contained within it.

Real estate agents in Cameroon do play a role in property transactions. They often facilitate negotiations between the buyer and seller, help in preparing the purchase agreement, and might assist in ensuring the agreement meets all legal requirements.

However, their involvement does not replace the legal necessity of having the agreement authenticated by a notary.

What's the signing process like?

In Cameroon, the signing process of a property purchase agreement is a structured procedure that involves several critical steps:

- The property purchase agreement is bilateral and must be signed by both the buyer and the seller.

- Both "the buyer" and "the seller" can indeed be several people. In cases where there are multiple buyers or sellers, all parties involved must sign the agreement.

Here are the documents and information which is Required:

- From the seller, essential documents typically include proof of ownership, land title, and any other documents proving their right to sell the property.

- The buyer needs to provide identification documents and, in some cases, proof of funds or financing arrangements.

Here is the signing process and timeline:

- Initially, both parties negotiate the terms of the sale. Once these are agreed upon, a draft of the property purchase agreement is prepared.

- The parties then review the agreement, often with the assistance of legal counsel or a real estate agent.

- After reviewing, the agreement is signed in the presence of a notary. The notary's role is to authenticate the document, ensuring its legality and the accuracy of the information.

While remote signing of documents is becoming more common globally, in Cameroon, the preference and practice for a property purchase agreement is for both parties to be physically present, especially for notarization.

There's no fixed deadline for signing the property purchase agreement. It typically depends on the negotiation process between the buyer and seller.

Once signed, the agreement remains valid until the completion of the sale, unless it includes specific clauses stating otherwise.

After signing, the property purchase agreement, along with the transfer of ownership, must be registered with the local land registry in Cameroon. This registration is crucial for the legal transfer of the property.

Amendments to the contract after it has been signed are possible but must be agreed upon by both parties. Any significant changes would also require re-authentication by a notary.

The typical timeframe for completing all necessary paperwork and approvals after signing the property purchase agreement can vary. It depends on several factors, including the efficiency of local land registries, the complexity of the transaction, and the responsiveness of both parties.

Generally, it could take several weeks to a few months.

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How is the payment handled when signing a property purchase contract in Cameroon?

In Cameroon, understanding the financial aspects of a property purchase agreement is crucial to navigate the real estate transaction successfully.

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know.

When you sign the sales agreement, you are usually required to pay a down payment. This amount can vary, but a typical down payment is around 10% to 30% of the property's sale price. This percentage can be negotiated with the seller.

Besides the down payment, there may be additional upfront costs. These can include notary fees, legal fees, and possibly a fee for the real estate agent if one is involved in the transaction.

The payment is generally made directly to the seller. However, in some transactions, especially those involving real estate agents or legal representatives, the payment might be made to an escrow account. This ensures that the funds are secure until the transaction is completed.

The exact timing for the payment due date can vary and should be clearly outlined in the sales agreement. Typically, the down payment is due upon signing the agreement, with the remainder due at a later specified date, often at the final closing of the sale.

There are tax implications for both the buyer and seller. The buyer is often responsible for property transfer taxes, which can be a percentage of the property's sale price. This percentage varies and should be verified as part of the transaction process.

You can negotiate the down payment amount with the seller. This is often part of the initial negotiations before drafting the sales agreement.

Whether the down payment is refundable depends on the terms of the sales agreement. It can be refundable under certain conditions, such as a failed inspection or if the buyer is unable to secure financing. These contingencies should be explicitly stated in the agreement.

Whether you can use a mortgage loan for the down payment largely depends on the lender's policies. Some buyers use personal funds for the down payment and secure a mortgage for the remaining balance.

An attorney or real estate agent can play a significant role in handling the payment process. They can facilitate negotiations, ensure the proper transfer of funds, and provide guidance on legal and tax implications.

You should definitely request a receipt or confirmation of payment when you make the down payment. This is crucial for keeping a record of the transaction and for legal purposes.

For the seller, there may be capital gains tax implications depending on the profit made from the sale. For the buyer, as mentioned, property transfer taxes are a key consideration.

What are the potentials risks and pitfalls?

You might be interested in reading our article about the common risks and pitfalls surrounding a property transaction in Cameroon.

In Cameroon, as in many countries, real estate transactions can involve various risks and pitfalls, and it's essential to understand these, particularly in relation to the property purchase agreement.

Both buyers and sellers can potentially withdraw from the property purchase agreement, but this usually depends on the terms specified within the agreement itself.

If specific contingencies are included — such as financing, inspection, or legal compliance — and these are not met, it may allow for withdrawal.

Unlike some jurisdictions, Cameroon's real estate transactions do not typically feature a standard cooling-off period. Once the agreement is signed, especially after being notarized, it becomes legally binding.

Any withdrawal after signing without a valid reason specified in the agreement could lead to legal consequences.

Valid reasons for withdrawal can include inability to secure financing, discovery of legal issues with the property, or failure to pass an inspection. These must be outlined as contingencies in the agreement.

If one party fails to fulfill their obligations, they could face legal actions. Penalties can include forfeiture of the down payment, compensation for damages, or specific performance of the agreement.

If the buyer backs out without a valid reason, they might lose their down payment. If the seller backs out, they might have to return the down payment, possibly with additional penalties.

In many countries, real estate transactions often include a cooling-off period, allowing buyers to withdraw without penalty.

The necessity of notarization and specific performance as a legal remedy can also vary significantly.

One risk is the buyer discovering legal issues with the property, such as unclear title or undisclosed liens, after signing the agreement.

Another risk involves property defects that were not disclosed or discovered during the initial inspection.

In case of disputes, these are typically resolved through negotiation, mediation, or, as a last resort, through the legal system. The notarized agreement usually forms the basis of any legal proceedings.

If defects or issues are discovered after signing, the recourse depends on the agreement terms. If the seller knowingly concealed defects, the buyer might have legal grounds for action.

Disputes in real estate transactions can arise, though the frequency varies. Issues often relate to non-disclosure of property defects, failure to meet contractual terms, or financial disagreements.

A common scenario involves disputes over property boundaries or titles. These are often resolved through legal adjudication, where the court examines the evidence and decides based on Cameroonian property law.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.