THE PROPERTY TRANSFER PROCESS IN SHORT
The process starts with the signing of an agreement of sale, which document is signed by the purchaser, the seller and the estate agent (if applicable).
In the sale agreement the seller nominates the transferring attorney to attend to the transfer of the property at the applicable deeds office.
The transferring attorney attends to the following initial tasks:
Make sure that the sale agreement is valid and complete;
Check the deeds office records to ensure that the property being sold is registered in the name of the seller;
Apply for the cancellation requirement of the seller’s existing bond over the property at the seller’s bank and source the title deed from the bank. If there is no bond over the property, there will be no cancellation requirement and the title deed will be sourced from the seller.
Apply for rates clearance figures and levy/homeowners association clearance figures (if applicable).
Collect the deposit payable by the purchaser (if applicable).
In the meantime, the purchaser applies for a bond to finance the purchase price, or the balance of the purchase price if a deposit has been paid.
The purchaser’s bank approves the bond application and appoints a bond attorney to draft the bank’s bond documents.
The transfer and bond documents are prepared by the transfer and bond attorneys.
The purchaser signs the transfer and bond documents and pays the transfer and bond costs.
Note that if the purchaser pays for the purchase price from his/her own funds, the reference to a bond described above will not apply and there will be no bond attorneys involved in the transaction. The purchaser will then instead pay the purchase price to the transferring attorneys in trust pending registration of the property in the purchaser’s name, or a guarantee will be issued by the purchaser’s bank against funds being held for the purchaser.
The seller signs the transfer documents.
Bank guarantees are issued to secure payment of the purchase price from the purchaser’s bond (if applicable).
Transfer duty is paid to SARS or, if applicable, exemption is arranged.
A rates clearance certificate, a levy clearance certificate (if applicable), and a homeowners certificate (if applicable) are obtained.
An electricity compliance certificate, an electrical fencing compliance certificate (if applicable) and a gas reticulation compliance certificate (if applicable) are obtained.
Steps 1 to 13 above should normally take no longer than 6 to 7 weeks. Very important: There are currently backlogs and delays at the city council of Pretoria and some other city councils with the issuing of rates clearance figures and/or certificates and this can cause delays of 2 to 3 weeks or even longer to the suggested timeline.
The required transfer and bond documents are lodged for examination at the applicable Deeds Office. The timeline for the deeds office’s examination process is normally 5 to 8 working days.
If the documents are found to be in order, registration is effected at the Deeds Office. This has the effect that the seller’s bond is cancelled (if applicable), the purchaser is recorded as the new owner of the property and a bond is registered in favour of the purchaser’s bank (if applicable).
On the business day following the date of registration, the estate agent’s commission is paid (if applicable) and the available balance of the sale price is paid to the seller. The seller and purchaser are also provided with proofs of registration and reconciliation statements.
Steps 15 to 17 should not take longer than 10 working days.
To complete the process, the city council rates and taxes department, the managing agent (if applicable) and the HOA (if applicable) are advised regarding the registration.
Note that that the transferring attorneys are not involved in sellers’ applications to city councils for the closing of their water and electricity accounts or purchasers’ applications for opening of new water and electricity accounts. These processes must be attended to by the clients themselves, or it can be facilitated by consultants whose contact details are normally given to sellers and purchasers by the transferring attorneys with the reconciliation statements referred to in 17 above.
NB: Please note that the process described above is an abbreviated and simplified version of the transfer process relevant to the Pretoria deeds office. The timelines and steps mentioned will differ dramatically in the case of deceased estate transfers, sales of subdivided/consolidated properties, new developments and any another transaction that is out of the ordinary.
J NORTJE ATTORNEYS INC January 2021