Whose Land is This Anyway?

Before we get in to the scriptures on home ownership let’s look some more at the importance of land. In light of the previously described link between economic development and land ownership in first world nations, it is important to look at the developing and former communist nations of the world that are hamstrung from economic growth because of weak or nonexistent property rights. For prosperity to come to these nations, one of the first needs is to improve the laws governing property ownership so people can own property free and clear.

Sadly, in many nations of the world, a piece of real estate might have as many as 5-10 different people claiming ownership of it and there is no functioning system to determine who owns the deed to this land. Whose land is this anyway? One person claims his uncle gave him the land, another says he bought it for an amount of money from the neighbor; another says it is theirs because they have been squatting on it for the last few years. As long as it cannot be determined who the actual owner of the land is and that it is free of claims against it, no bank will accept this land as collateral for a loan that might be used to start a business. Established and legal property rights systems can create capital and economic lift for everyone.

Fernando De Soto in his book, The Mystery of Capital, describes this predicament.

Imagine a country where nobody can identify who owns what, addresses cannot be easily verified, people cannot be made to pay their debts, resources cannot conveniently be turned into money, ownership cannot be divided into shares, descriptions of assets are not standardized and cannot be easily compared, and the rules that govern property vary from neighborhood to neighborhood or even street to street. You have just put yourself into the life of a developing country or former communist nation; more precisely, you have imagined life for 80% of its population……80% of the world is undercapitalized; people cannot draw economic life from their buildings (or any other asset) to generate capital. In Haiti…according to our surveys, 68 percent of city dwellers and 97 percent of people in the countryside live in housing to which nobody has a clear legal title. Legal property  creates financial empowerment for individuals in any culture.

Really…80% ? Is it possible to break out of this cycle ?    Yes.. practial details to come.

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