Advice and Opinion

Property ownership: questions to ask the conveyancing attorney

Estate Agency generic

Ownership of a property takes more than a signature on an Offer to Purchase or for that matter the payment of the purchase price.  The property needs to go through the process of transfer and needs to be registered in the new buyer’s name at the Deed Registry Office, which is where the services of a conveyancing attorney are required.

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, the process of purchasing a home can be complicated, and there are several aspects that buyers may be unsure of during the various stages of the transaction.  He adds that there are a few questions that buyers can ask the conveyancing attorney that will provide them with more clarity and give them a better understanding of what is required.

Goslett lists the questions below:

How long will the registration and transfer process take?

On average the process should take around three months from the date of sale. However, this depends on a few key elements, such as the due date of the buyer’s bond grant, along with the guarantees stipulated in the deed of sale. If there are no complications, the process can be expedited. Likewise, if there are complications, registration can be delayed. Staying in communication with the conveyancing attorney will help buyers stay abreast of the situation and possible timing.

To whom do I pay the deposit?

The answer to this question will depend on what is stipulated in the sales agreement. However, the deposit is usually paid to either the estate agency or the transferring attorney – both of which should have trust accounts. The deposit will never be paid directly to the seller, but rather into a trust account where it is held safely.

What happens with the interest that accrues?

If buyers provide written consent, the estate agency or attorney can have the deposit invested into an interest-bearing account.  Once registration of the property has taken place, the interest which accrued over the period it took for the transfer to go through will be paid to the buyer – unless other arrangements have been made.

How much will the transfer and bond costs be?

The transfer duty payable is based on the purchase price of the property, while the bond costs will be determined by the total loan registered with the bank. Either the estate agent or the conveyancing attorney should be able to provide a fairly accurate answer to buyers based on a schedule of bond and transfer costs.

When are the transfer costs due?

The transfer costs will be due a few weeks after the sale of the home when the transfer attorney requests the documentation to be signed. The conveyancing attorney is required to pay the transfer duty in advance, along with any rates and taxes or levies required to obtain the necessary clearance certificates. The longer it takes for buyers to pay the transfer duty, the longer it will take to transfer the property into their name.

To whom do I pay occupational rent?

If the buyer moves into the property before registration has taken place, they will be required to pay a predetermined occupational rent.  The buyer and seller can come to the agreement that the rent be paid directly into the seller’s bond account. Consecutively, the buyer can pay the occupational rent to the estate agent or conveyancing attorney, and they will ensure that it is paid either into the seller’s bond account or directly to the seller.

How will I know when the property is registered in my name?

As soon as the property is registered in the buyer’s name, a representative from the conveyancing attorney’s office will contact the buyer to let them know. At this time the buyer will also be given the final statement of account. The bank will also provide buyers with written confirmation that their bond has been registered and when they can expect the first repayment to be debited.

Goslett concludes by saying that communication between the relevant parties is a key element in the property transfer process. If ever buyers are uncertain of anything at any stage of the process they should contact the conveyancing attorney or estate agent.