News from - iAfrica - How to avoid property delays

The property boom and increased delivery on land reform may be cause for economic celebration, but it has also led to the over-burdening of the systems responsible for the efficient registration of property transfers.

Not only are the increased volumes a factor, but the situation has been compounded by staff shortages, inadequate training and the transition from out-dated manual systems to computerised procedures. RE/MAX of Southern Africa Regional Director, Bruce Swain, acknowledges that, to a large extent, buyers and sellers are powerless to overcome these setbacks, but there are some measures that can be taken to limit delays to property transfers during a sale.

Get organised

"Property transfers or buying a house can be a lot more complicated than it appears”, cautions Pretoria-based RE/MAX Broker/Owner (and experienced conveyancing attorney) Martin Potgieter.

"All sorts of issues can arise; from delayed body corporate insurance certificates, to unexpected costs that the buyer (or seller) is suddenly confronted with."

Often the cause for the delay stems from new laws surrounding the payment of rates and services for the period of the transfer.

Buyers should be prepared for six months of rates payments upfront, as this is now a condition for the transfer to go through. In addition, the seller is expected to be entirely up to date with their rates and services payments and sometimes this throws a spanner in the works. Added to this, the receiver of revenue is entitled to prevent a sale going through if one of the parties' taxes are outstanding, and it is plain to see why it is advisable to have all your finances in order before entering into the property arena.

Appoint an experienced attorney

Potgieter stresses that people going through transfer should appoint a reputable, experienced conveyancing attorney to conduct the proceedings.

Cape based RE/MAX Property Associates Broker/Owner, José De Abreu agrees: "Many people entrust their regular attorney with the conveyancing duties, but this is not an ideal situation as conveyancing is a specialised field. Attorneys not focused on this area will merely pass the case on to another firm causing even greater delays."

Your conveyancing attorney should not have to be prompted to advise you in detail about what you should be prepared for both financially and in terms of time required. In addition, you should be given a full list of what to bring (bills, marriage contracts etc…) so that time-wastage is kept to a minimum. Try not to delay on signing documents, the sooner the better.

Banks also to blame

De Abreu cautions that the registering of deeds and clearance of rates procedures are just some of the parts of a potentially lengthy process. Progress can just as easily be slowed down at the bank due to existing bond cancellations being snagged, lost archives, hidden costs not met, or incorrect information being supplied.

RE/MAX Midland Broker/Owner, Pelham Henwood, is of the opinion that a trusted adviser is imperative. "Yes, we are finding that there are delays at the deeds office and at the municipality, with the rates clearances. We know that this is largely due to staff shortages, systems overhauls and insufficient training in these departments but there is very little we can actually do about these things. Instead, the onus is on us to work with conveyancers who have a thorough knowledge of the system and a close eye on the status of your application."

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