City's property buyers to breathe more easily

Property buyers and professionals dealing with property transfers will be able to breathe more easily from Monday when an electronic rates clearance system becomes operational in the city, enabling rates clearance certificates to be processed within a week.

At present, conveyancers and transferring agents often have to wait three months.

About 100 applications to the City of Cape Town are made daily for municipal clearance, which is needed for applications to be lodged in the deeds office and transfer of ownership of property to take place.

To overcome the huge backlog and expedite transactions for the increasing number of people getting houses from the state and a boom in the property market, the city acquired the system and hopes ultimately to be able to process applications in a day.

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"You may still prefer to go the old way of standing in the lines with arms full of files bulging with papers or take the electronic highway from your desktop," mayoral committee member for finance Maatje Malan told a gathering of attorneys and city officials on Wednesday, adding that it would be phased in.

In the past two months, third party operator Lawyers Access Web (L@W), the organisation that integrates the back-end systems of the city and co-operating firms into a single interface, have trained over 150 conveyancing firms in the new system.

Maggie van der Westhuizen, a conveyancer at Sonnenberg, Hoffmann and Galombik, said she had not yet been trained on the new system but was all for it.

"It will expedite the whole process," she said, adding that up till now delays of between three weeks and three months were common and with the electronic system there was an additional charge of only R50 per application.

L@W's Trevor Coppen said that of the 3 000 conveyancing firms in the country, about 2 000 had subscribed to the new system.

Another representative of L@W, Cher Chapple, said the system would be fully integrated by September, by which stage the turnaround time for the certificate to be granted was hoped to be three working days.

Interim manager for debtors at the City, Chris de Vries, said that all steps of the process - from the initial application to the supplying of figures and making payment, and then receiving the certificate - would ultimately be electronic, with perhaps only one or two stages required where human contact would be necessary.

Conveyancers would even be able to print the certificates in their own offices.

Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property Group, said if the new system could speed the process it was to be "welcomed in a huge way".

Chief executive officer of Spearhead Properties Mike Flax said rates clearance was one of the biggest holdups. Time saved would create "huge savings" for developers, he added.

  • This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Times on June 30, 2005
Article by: Dominique Herman from - http://www.iol.co.za