Title deeds and site diagrams should be part of the agent's fact file - and should be checked for accuracy

Estate agents should, says Anton du Plessis, CEO of Vineyard Estates, study the title deed of the homes they are selling and should be able to produce these for discussion if and when a prospective buyer begins to show real interest.

Twenty two years in residential property marketing, said du Plessis, have shown him that every now and then a buyer will sign for a property without being told by his agent that it is subject to certain restrictions, such as a boundary setback. These may be standard for the area or they may be special to the site. The buyer may, for example, be unaware of the servitude to his property.

“In many cases, the agent, in his urgency to close a sale, will assure buyers that no onerous title conditions exist when in fact he has never checked the Title Deeds or Surveyor General's site diagrams.”

The agent should be able to produce the site diagram approved by the Surveyor General’s office. Such diagrams, said du Plessis, have on occasions been known to reveal unexpected irregularities in the shape of the plot. In one case, he said, an agent sold a home in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs without realising that it did not include a section fronting onto a stream. This land had been occasionally used by the seller and was assumed to be part of the plot. For some unknown reason, it in fact formed part of a panhandle to the next door plot

“It is possible that the new buyer may never be aware that this land does not belong to him – but he has possibly paid some 10% more for the plot than he should have.”

A good and experienced agent, said du Plessis, should be able to pick up significant size discrepancies simply by looking at a property. On one occasion in Constantia, he said, it had become clear to him that the property was smaller than the seller thought. Closer inspection of the Surveyor's report confirmed the seller's estimation of the land size. However, when du Plessis measured the boundaries of the erf, and applied fairly standard mathematical calculations, it became obvious that a mistake had been made. The surveyor had in fact inadvertently included an adjacent road in the erf.

“Had the property been sold on the basis of the incorrect size (inflated by some 8%) it could have had disastrous financial implications for the seller, and consequently the Surveyor further down the line. In this particular case, it meant that the property could only be subdivided into three and not four portions,” said du Plessis.

Article by: www.vineyardestates.co.za