So in 2005, when he learned about a 2,000-square-meter piece of land for sale in a part of town where he expected property values to boom, he bought it. The deal was formal: Elsa's father paid 100,000 birr ($3,641) in cash, signed the contracts in front of witnesses, and got a receipt.
But there was one thing missing: a deed. So when Elsa's father unexpectedly died just after the deal closed, her family was thrown into crisis.
"As soon as [the previous owner] found out my father died, she changed her tune," says Elsa, who asked that her surname not be published while the court case is ongoing. "We've spent the last 10 years going in and out of court."
The long duration of the trials only raised the stakes, since it turned out Elsa's father was right: The property's value did skyrocket.