Property transfers can be a time-consuming process, especially in today’s challenging economic and pandemic-affected times. Delays are common, but there are steps you can take to expedite the process and register your transfer in a fraction of the usual time. By considering the following points before selling your property, you can significantly reduce transfer timelines.
Understanding the delay factors: Two key factors contribute to prolonged property transfers: sellers taking time to gather necessary documents and certificates and delays in cash payments required for the transfer. However, with careful planning, a cash transfer can be registered within 4 to 5 weeks instead of the usual 8 to 12 weeks.
The Role of Sellers and Purchasers: It’s important to recognize that the speed of the transfer process depends not on the Deeds Office, but on the sellers and purchasers meeting their obligations timeously. Once the sale agreement is signed, both parties need to act promptly to gather the necessary paperwork.
Considerations to Expedite Transfer: To speed up your property transfer, consider the following points:
- A rates clearance certificate is valid for 60 days from the print date. If the transfer isn’t registered within this period, a revised rates assessment and clearance certificate must be obtained.
- Levy clearance certificates have a specific validity period. If the transfer isn’t registered before the certificate expires, a revised assessment and clearance certificate will be required.
Rates and Levies: Sellers are responsible for paying rates and levies, including any arrears, as well as future charges. To avoid delays, sellers should ensure their accounts are up to date and have sufficient funds available for payment when requested.
- Property Documents: Ensure you have essential property documents, such as valid house plans, electrical compliance certificates, fence compliance certificates, and gas compliance certificates. These documents are required regardless of a sale and having them readily available saves time.
- Avoid delaying conditions: If urgency is a priority, sellers should avoid including conditions in the offer to purchase that may cause delays, such as waiting for the purchaser to sell their property.
- Access bond withdrawals: If you need to withdraw cash from an access facility on your home loan account, do so before the transaction reaches the conveyancer to avoid delays caused by bank procedures.
- Building Plans: To meet purchaser and bank requirements, consider obtaining up-to-date building plans before the sale. This can save around 3 to 4 weeks in the process.
- Lost Title Deeds: If the original title deed is lost, involve a conveyancer upfront to assist with the application and advertisement process required to obtain a duplicate original. A lost title deed can create extensive delays if not dealt with immediately.
- Power of Attorney for conveyancing documents: If you plan to go overseas, sign a Power of Attorney with a conveyancer in South Africa before departure. This eliminates the need for costly authentication procedures while abroad.
- Repair defects: To prevent disputes and delays, ensure that all defects in the property are repaired or disclosed in detail in the sale agreement to avoid repair obligations before transfer.
- Compliance Certificates: Ensure you have valid electrical, electric fence, plumbing and gas compliance certificates as banks and purchasers may scrutinise them. Invalid certificates or repairs required to be undertaken before the certificates can be issued can lead to delays and additional costs.
- De-Registration of Companies or Close Corporations: If your company or close corporation has been de-registered, it must be re-instated before the transfer can be registered. This process can take up to 8 weeks, so start well in advance.
- Approval Requirements for Companies, Close Corporations, and Trusts: Understand the approval requirements for sales involving companies, close corporations, and trusts. Compliance with legal procedures and obtaining necessary resolutions in advance will prevent delays.
- NHBRC Certificates: For properties less than 5 years old, provide copies of National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) certificates to the purchaser’s mortgage bond bank. Apply for duplicate copies if they are missing or lost.
- Unpaid Engineering Service Fees: If there are outstanding fees for engineering services or town planning applications, settle them before the transfer. Otherwise, the responsibility may fall on subsequent owners.
- Deceased Estate Sales: Only the authorized executor named in the Letters of Executorship issued by the Master of The High Court can sign on behalf of a deceased estate. Selling without proper authorization will render the sale invalid.
While not all points will be relevant to every sale, this checklist provides a comprehensive overview of potential considerations. Additionally, conveyancers are available to assist with any queries and provide further guidance. Starting the paperwork well in advance of the sale is recommended to avoid unforeseen delays and ensure a smoother and faster transfer process.