Purchasing a new house is a significant milestone in one’s life. However, the process of transferring ownership can be intricate and time-consuming. Once the Offer to Purchase has been accepted and all conditions such as the sale of an existing property or mortgage loan approval have been met, the conveyancing process begins.

Typically, the conveyancing process takes around three months to complete, but it can experience delays due to various factors. During this period, attorneys representing the buyer and seller work together to draft the necessary transfer and bond documents.

Moreover, the buyer needs to cover transaction costs, including transfer duty, attorneys’ fees, Deeds Office fees, and incidentals. On the other hand, the seller is responsible for costs related to securing the rates clearance certificate and making advance payments for rates, if required.

The conveyancing process involves a significant amount of administration and coordination. Attorneys must gather various documents, such as the title deed and bond information if there is an existing bond on the property. They also liaise with other attorneys involved in the transaction, handle payment of transfer duty to SARS and obtain a rates clearance certificate and a levy  certificate (for sectional title properties).

Furthermore, the conveyancing attorneys require the necessary certificates of compliance for electrical, plumbing, gas, and electric fencing, based on the municipality’s requirements and the installations on the property. The seller plays a crucial role in facilitating the acquisition of these certificates and attending to any necessary repairs.

Once all the documents are signed, costs are paid and certificates are obtained, the attorneys finalise the documents for submission to the Deeds Office. The Deeds Office then examines the documents and, after approximately a week to ten days, the attorneys are notified that the matter is “up on prep”, or ready for finalisation.

On the day of registration, ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer. The buyer’s new bond is registered and the seller’s existing bond is cancelled. Additionally, guarantees are paid, after which the seller receives the net proceeds while the estate agent receives their commission. Finally, the new owner can take possession of their new property (unless a prior occupation arrangement was made).

A vital document in this process is the title deed, which serves as legal proof of ownership and contains essential information about the property such as its size, location, and boundaries. It also includes any restrictions or conditions applicable to the property such as zoning regulations or building codes.

South Africa boasts a sophisticated and well-respected Deeds Registry system that has been recording land and immovable property ownership since the 1600s. The title deed is a critical document in the buying or selling of a property, as a property cannot be sold or transferred without it. In the event of a lost title deed, a replacement must be obtained before selling the property and this process is quite lengthy.

Though time-consuming, the conveyancing process plays a vital role in property ownership in South Africa. It ensures that the transfer of ownership is legal and that all necessary documents and certificates are in place, keeping the country’s land ownership records updated.

There are 11 Deeds Offices located across the provinces in the country and members of the public have access to information regarding property ownership.

By understanding the complexities and potential delays in the conveyancing process, homebuyers can navigate through the challenges more effectively and ultimately achieve their dream of moving into their new house.