“Selling a house is a big decision and one that could have hidden costs”, says Lolly Unterlsak, Property Consultant at Jawitz Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town.
“Sellers should be aware of all the costs involved, even the unlikely ones, before deciding to sell so as not to be unpleasantly surprised,” says Unterslak. “Speak to a reputable estate agent and ask them about the costs specifically. That way you’ll be aware of any surprises before they come along. An estate agent should be able to put your mind at ease by highlighting the costs from the start, to ensure an easy and pleasant sales experience.”
Agent’s commission and VAT
An estate agent charges commission on the sale of any property and it is usually expressed as a percentage of the purchase price. Note, however, that this percentage excludes VAT. This total is the seller’s responsibility to pay.
Compliance certificates are a legal requirement in order for a transfer to be registered. It is a seller’s responsibility to provide and cover the costs of electrical, plumbing, gas and, in some cases, beetle and electric fence certificates of compliance. “Nowadays, there are companies that offer the full service so sellers only need to deal with one supplier,” Unterslak says.
Of course, should anything be non-compliant the cost of repairing it in order to obtain the certificate could also be an unexpected cost. “Sellers should make sure they are in full compliance of the latest municipal by-laws in their area. In some cities, these by-laws change quite frequently, so keeping maintenance money aside to cover this would be a wise move,” Unterslak comments.
In the case of the seller not being able to vacate the property on the agreed upon date after the transfer, they will have to pay occupational rent to the new owners. Sellers should make provision for this expense in the event that their new property is not ready to occupy or make alternative accommodation plans. “Make sure your new home is ready a few days in advance of the transfer so you won’t have to incur occupational rent,” Unterslak advises.
And finally, there are moving costs and the insurance needed to cover your belongings in transit. “Sellers should also keep in mind the cost of physical storage, should the need arise to temporarily store any of your things until you take occupation of your new home,” Unterslak concludes.