Advice and Opinion

Sectional title estate agents have to be well informed specialists

The selling of sectional title units requires specialist training – but this is quite often not acknowledged, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group.

“All too often,” said Clarke recently, “sectional title estate agents are not particularly well informed about the legislation governing this sector of the property market. They have also often not studied the body corporate’s house rules, which vary from scheme to scheme and which can contain certain clauses which, had they known about these in advance, would probably have prevented certain buyers or tenants from concluding a deal.”

Quite frequently, said Clarke, it becomes apparent that the estate agent has allowed the buyer or tenant to make certain assumptions which are quite clearly at variance with the contract they are signing.

“Typically,” said Clarke, “the buyer will assume that certain garage or storage space, communal areas or other facilities are for his use – only to find that this is not so.”

House rules regarding the keeping of pets, the playing of loud music and the holding of parties late into the night can all be contrary to the house rules without the new owner knowing this.

“One of the facts very seldom publicized,” said Clarke, “is that every sectional title scheme has to lodge its house rules with the Deeds Office and the Deeds Office is obliged to issue copies of these to all who ask for them. If this practice was followed a little more often, a great many problems would be avoided.”

However, said Clarke, the most serious lapse of all on the part of sectional title estate agents is not to know the financial position of the scheme in which they are selling units – or if they do know it, to shirk giving a full explanation of it to their client.

“South African law stipulates that the prospective buyer has to be given an up-to-date copy of the scheme’s balance sheet and, what is more, should reveal not only the full levy payment schedule (which usually varies from unit to unit) but also the basis on which the levies are calculated and, more importantly, what special or extra levies are likely to be necessary in the year ahead. By simply avoiding discussing these issues, the estate agent may speed up his sale – but he is being irresponsible and immoral.”

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