Advice and Opinion

In Property Transactions, A Signed Deal Is Binding – But Not Everyone Accepts This.

A case in which Denver Vraagom, a conveyancing attorney at the Cape legal firm, Gunston Attorneys, has recently been involved shows yet again how in property matters signed agreements are binding no matter how much one or other of the parties involved would like to see them cancelled or reversed. The case also shows how essential it is for buyers to check every aspect not only of the property they are buying but also of the neighbourhood in which it is situated. In this particular case, said Vraagom, the seller sold his home without first finding an alternative home to purchase and move into. This put him under pressure to purchase (and may have led to his not taking sufficient care with the investigation of a new home). His problem however seemed to have been solved when Vraagom was told that he had now bought elsewhere.

It was arranged that the transfer of his first home would go through almost immediately, while the transfer of the home he was buying would be done as soon as possible thereafter. The first transfer took place on a Friday and the buyer moved in on the Saturday.

On the following Monday morning Vraagom learned from the buyer that he had wanted the bond reversed and the deal overruled. Apparently he felt justified in asking for this because he had discovered that the crime situation in the area was, in his view, far from satisfactory and because certain faults in the electrical network had not yet been rectified by the seller. (An electrical compliance certificate had been issued but the electrician appeared to have overlooked certain faults).

“What the buyer was now asking for, i.e. the cancellation of the whole deal, was impracticable,“ said Vraagom. “He would have had to get a court order to bring this about and it is highly doubtful that this would have been granted.”

The buyer, Vraagom added, should have checked the crime statistics before making the purchase – and the buyer could feasibly have made the deal subject to his finding the crime situation to his liking. However this step had not been taken.

“In property law it is strongly advisable to include all possible special considerations / conditions related to transaction in the written contract – once they are in writing it is extremely difficult to get them changed unless both parties agree to this,” said Vraagom.

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