Frequently asked Questions and Answers When Buying or Selling a Property

Q: To whom do I pay the deposit?

A: Your deposit can be paid either to the estate agency or the conveyancers appointed to handle the transfer. They both have trust accounts where your money will be held pending the registration of transfer. Parties must stipulate in the offer to purchase where the deposit must be paid and as well as the date the deposit is due.

Q: Who gets the interest on the deposit?

A: The estate agent or the conveyancing attorney can arrange for your deposit to be invested in an interest-bearing account, with your written consent. Usually, unless agreed otherwise, the interest is paid to you after the registration has taken place.

Q: What are suspensive conditions?

A: A suspensive condition is an uncertain future event. The Offer to Purchase is thus subject to the happening of this uncertain future event. Should the Purchaser fail to comply with the suspensive conditions pertaining to his/her specific offer within the allotted time frame, the Offer to Purchase becomes null and void and is of no effect.

Q: What is a guarantee?

A: A guarantee is a document issued by a registered South African Bank that guarantees the payment of funds upon the happening of certain events. On registration of transfer of the Property from the Seller to the Purchaser in the Deeds Registry, the conveyancer will notify the issuer of that guarantee of the registration. The guarantee is then payable and funds are paid in terms of that guarantee into the nominated trust account.

Q: Who appoints the conveyancer?

A: The seller usually appoints a conveyancer to attend to the transfer of fixed property, although this, like other aspects of a sale agreement, can be varied by negotiation between the parties. Regardless, of who appoints the conveyancer, the conveyancer owes a duty of care to both parties and must represent both parties fairly.

Q: What are costs involved in purchasing a property?

A: The purchaser is usually liable for the following costs:
Transfer duty, which is a tax levied on property and based on the purchase price;
Transfer fees payable to the transferring attorneys;
Bond Registration Fees payable to the bond registration attorneys.

Q: What costs are involved in selling a property?

A: The Seller is usually liable for the following costs:
Agents commission as agreed between the seller and the estate agent;
Cost related to cancelling the existing mortgage bond registered over the property;
Rates and taxes that are due on the property, as well as outstanding levies in respect of a sectional title unit;
Costs related to obtaining compliance certificates eg: gas, fence, electrical certificates.

Q: How are bond costs calculated and who is liable to pay such costs?

A: Bond costs are broken done similarly to transfer costs, being attorney’s fees. The amount payable will be determined by the value of the bond and by attorney’s tariffs. Depending on the bank you choose to go with, an initiation fee will be payable by the purchaser. This initiation fee is payable to the attorneys who will pay the fee directly to the bank and is approximately R 5985, 00.

Q: How are transfer costs calculated?

A: The amount varies according to the purchase price of the property. The fee is based on tariffs recommended by the Law Society, but may differ slightly from one law firm to another.

Q: When must my transfer costs be paid?

A: This usually happens a few weeks after the sale, when you sign your documents. Your conveyancer will require payment, since he has to pay the transfer duty – the major charge on most transfers.

Q: What is transfer Duty?

A: Transfer Duty is a tax levied on the value of any property acquired by any person by way of a transaction or in any other way. Transfer duty has to be paid before the transfer can be completed. From 1 March 2015, no transfer duty is payable on property acquired up to R750 000, which has increased from R900 000. Transfer duty is payable by the purchaser of the property.

Q: When will I have to sign the transfer documents?

A: A few weeks after the sale agreement is signed. Usually your conveyancer will wait until the bond is granted and he has received the cancellation figures for the seller’s existing bond.

Q: Can transfer and bond documents be signed overseas and if so what is the procedure?

A: Yes. However, there are certain formalities that must be complied with. Documents can either be signed before a Notary Public or at the South African Embassy in that country, but this can be costly and time consuming. If a seller or purchaser is in South Africa at the time of the transaction but returning overseas shortly thereafter, it is advisable if at all possible to sign a special or general power of attorney in favour of a local friend or family member who will then be able to act on their behalf.

Q: What is occupational rent?

A: Occupational rent typically comes into play when a buyer moves into the property before transfer and registration has taken place, or a seller remains in occupation of the property for a period after that point. Occupational rent is a form of financial compensation for the use of a property that the party does not own.

Q: If I move into my new property before registration of transfer, to whom do I pay the Occupational Rent?

A: You could pay the occupational rent to the estate agent or the conveyancing attorney. They will usually ensure that it is paid into the seller’s bond account or directly to the seller.

Q: What if I have lost my original Title Deed?

A: The Deeds Office keeps a record of all property transactions. If a title deed is destroyed or lost, application can be made to the deeds office for a duplicate original of the deed, at a fee. The application is accompanied by an affidavit stating that the deed is actually lost or destroyed and that diligent search has been made for the deed. Once the Registrar is satisfied he will then issue a certified copy of the title deed which will, for all purposes, be treated as if it were the original.

Q: What are Compliance Certificates and who is obligated to provide them?

A: There are five certificates that may have to be supplied to the Purchaser when selling your house, namely, electrical, beetle, gas, water/plumbing and electrical fence. It is the Seller’s responsibility to pay for these certificates and to fix anything required in order to obtain the certificates.

Q: What is the Deeds Office and what happens there?

A: The Deeds Office is where the Government keeps a record (“Deeds Registry”) of all Title Deeds issued (registered) by it. There are a few Deeds Offices in South Africa, normally one in each province. All documents are lodged simultaneously in Deeds Office by arrangement with all attorneys concerned. The examiners in the deeds office scrutinise the documents to ensure that they comply with all relevant legislation and regulations. When they are satisfied, they inform the conveyancer that the transaction is ready for registration. The Deeds Office takes approximately 2-3 weeks to process the documents before they are ready for registration.

Q: What does it mean when a matter is lodged in the Deeds Office?

A: After all the documentation has been signed and the costs paid, the transfer, new bond and cancellation bond documents are prepared by the respective attorneys for lodgment in the deeds office. All the documents are lodged in the Deeds Office by arrangement with the attorneys concerned.

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