Here are a few tips to start you off on the right track:
1. Market research
Before purchasing a property it is important to do proper market research. Make sure you are well informed about the asking price for the property in relation to the location, possible future developments in the area that might enhance the value of your property and the amenities that will suit your needs, e.g. schools in the area/ shopping centres/easy access to the highway.
2. Inspection of the house
Once you’ve found and viewed a house that you are interested in, ensure that a proper inspection is done by a reputable building inspector. When you are serious about purchasing the property you should request the building inspector to compile a comprehensive report. By doing this you will know exactly what you are purchasing and needn’t worry about a roof leak or any hidden defects that were not visible during a normal inspection, and of which the Seller was also perhaps not aware.
3. Read the sale agreement, carefully
Before you sign the agreement of sale, read all the conditions carefully and make sure that you understand the meaning and implication of each condition. In too many instances Purchasers are taken aback by conditions in the sale agreement and claim that they were not aware of such conditions. Make sure that when you sign the documents you fully understand the agreement you are entering into. An agreement of sale is a valid and binding document and once you’ve signed you are bound to the conditions contained therein. Non-compliance may trigger the breach clause that can lead to unnecessary and avoidable disputes and costly litigation.
4. Transfer done by a reputable law firm.
In most instances it is the prerogative of the Seller to appoint the transferring attorneys. Acquaint yourself with the transferring attorneys and insist on regular updates so that you are kept up to date with developments at all times during the transfer process. A normal transfer process takes between 4-6 weeks from inception to completion. However, this time frame is dependent on the circumstances of that particular property and may vary greatly depending on the situation. If, for example, there are issues with the Seller’s municipal accounts, the transferring attorneys will not be able to proceed with the transfer until this has been resolved and a clearance certificate has been obtained from the local authority.
5. Council related matters
After the registration of the property in your name it is your responsibility to ensure that a new municipal account for the rates and taxes and water and electricity is opened. The transferring attorneys will advise the local authority of the registration, but it remains the responsibility of the previous owner to ensure that the account is duly closed, and for the new owner to open the relevant accounts in his/her name.
Karien Coetzee is an Associate Director in the Property Law department at VDT Attorneys.
Contact her on 012 – 452 1300 for more information or advice on all property related matters.