(A) What are the documents that need to be checked while buying a plot?
Apart from the physical detailed visit of the plot, you have to personally see, read and undestand the details in the following documents.
1. The last sale deed on the plot.
This deed will be available with the current owner. You have to see the original and getting a copy(either from him or applying for a copy from sub registrar office), read the contents with proper attention and understanding. From this you will know the previous owner seller, the extent of land, the boundaries etc.
You should ensure that the stamp duty is correctly paid, the receipt for full consideration is documented and proof provided. The buyer in the sale deed should have been conveyed full marketable rights and title through the deed and should not have any word suggesting any encumbrance or right for any other person.
2.No-encumbrance or NIL encumbrance certificate
This can be obtained by the owner seller or you can apply and get it from SRO. The certificate should be for a period of 30 years or at least for 15 years.
The certificate will enlist all the transactions and deeds on the said property, if any, for the relevant period. If there are recent transactions, it is better to see the deeds/copy and ensure that everything is okay.
You should be careful that there is no minor share or rights especially. If the sale is going to be done by Power of Attorney, you should also cal for the Power of Attorney and ensure the genuineness and legal correctness.
3. Prior deeds
The last sale deed will say if the previous sale deed (prior deed/ partition deed in original is given to the buyer. If so you should scrutinise them. Otherwise you should ensure where the prior deeds are and ensure justification of that and scrutinise the copy from SRO.
It is better to trace back the prior deeds for 30 years or at the minimum of 15 years with the lasts and before that one compulsorily.
4. Tax paid receipts.
You should scrutinise the latest tax paid receipts- for the land and building if any- and ensure that all taxes are paid upto date.
5. Possession certificate and sketch
This will be obtained from Village Office. The seller can get this and give you. It is with the sketch that you have again verified the plot. If there is any difference from the sale deed and present sketch, then you have to get is surveyed again by the village office people and get it as the latest status. This only should be recorded in the new sale deed and pay only for that. That only should be the sale property. The seller should also convince you how the difference happened.
6. Get professional help
If you are not clear in any of the things, it is better to get the service of your well wisher lawyer and get his professional opinion. But even when you take help, please do the scrutiny by yourselves also. It is better to go to the SRO and do the search by yourself paying the relevant fees.
7. Enquiry with neighbours and local people
Apart an above all these you should also hold discreet enquiry from the local people and neighbours with due care.
(B) Do we need to take help of the government land surveyor to measure the land?
Yes, it is better, especially when the latest sketch is not available to scutinise and you are not able to properly see the boundaries and extent or the plot does not appear to be measuring as per sale deed.
(C) What to do when a neighbouring plot owner encroached small amount of the land and built a structure but it is not reflected in the documents?
As a prospective buyer, you cannot do anything in this. But if that encroachment and structure does not block your approach and path and you are ready to buy the plot as such, get the land surveyed by govt surveyor, get all borders and extent properly narrated and marked, ensure thje possession certificate is given only for the actual plot now in possession. Then the actual land available can be properly narrated and sketched and sale deed and price made for the actual land available for real sale.
I you are not satisfied, do not proceed further.
(D) Is the land buying procedure different for different states?
All basics are similar everywhere. There may be some few additional documents, photo, supporting documents etc. Moreover the names of papers and documents may vary. The registration charges and stamp duty and other fees may vary.