'Embrace the property transfer process'

'Embrace the property transfer process'

(Comments were made by myself and others on the original IOL Post.)

Are you unhappy about how long it takes to transfer your new home into your name? Have you been inconvenienced by transfer delays which meant you had to carry on renting in your old home? Have you had to reschedule your move into your new home due to delays? These are all problems experienced by home buyers on a regular basis, made even more topical now here in Cape Town due to delays coming from the City of Cape Town's Rates Department.

Property transfers almost always take longer than expected. It is a complex process and it can be delayed by many factors. Understanding the process will go a long way in avoiding any surprises and will prepare you for a smooth transition into your new home.

When purchasing a new home, the transfer processes revolve around satisfying the applicable regulatory environments surrounding property transactions. They are the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), the Transfer Duty Act (SARS), the Value Added Tax Act (also SARS) and the Municipal Property Rates Act. If you need a bond from a financial institution to finance the purchase, then you will of course have to follow that process of satisfying your bank's demand for documentation as well.

The process starts with getting the finance in place after your offer to purchase has been accepted by the seller. Your estate agent can assist by approaching a bond originator or you can approach a bank of your choice.

You will need the following minimum documentation for bond approval; your proof of address, your ID and your income tax number. These documents will satisfy the FICA requirements. The banks have different methods of evaluating your ability to repay bonds, but you will asked for proof of earnings from your employer, a monthly budget and an asset and liability statement as a minimum.

While you are waiting for bond approval, the conveyance attorney will start the procedure to transfer the property. The seller normally has the right to choose the conveyance attorney. They attorney is required to first of all also do a FICA test. If they have not already received the documents from the estate agent, you might be asked to forward those documents to them as well. You will also be asked to go to their offices to sign their instructions to proceed with the process of applying for transfer duty and rates clearance certificates. At the same time they will contact the bond attorneys, whose task it is to issue a guarantee that the funds are available from your bank to purchase the property. If the purchase is financed in part by cash, you will also be asked for a guarantee that the cash will be available when due.

Many of these procedures can run concurrently but some must be completed before the next step can proceed. Although time frames are subject to change depending on the many variables, the average durations that you can expect the processes to take are as follows:

•To obtain bond approval: 18 days from the offer being accepted by the seller.

•To signing the documents at the conveyance attorney: 18 days from bond approval.

•To lodge the transfer with the Deeds office: 39 days from signing at the attorneys.

•To transfer the property: 14 days from lodgement at Deeds Office.

In total this averages out at approximately 103 days or 3,4 months from the date your offer is accepted to the date of transfer. This could vary between as little as two months and as much as six months as all transfers are unique.

Issues that might delay this process are many and varied. Incorrect income tax numbers, not being able to meet with attorneys timeously, outstanding municipal rates that are not paid up immediately, documents relating to the building are not available (electrical compliance certificate, NHBRC certificate, Occupancy certificate, Council Approved Building Plans and Completion Certificate), delays in the many government and municipal departments and inconsistencies between agreement of sale and bond documents such as erf numbers and suburb names.

Property rights and ownership are enshrined in our constitution and that is one of the most important contributors to investor confidence and peace of mind for the home owner. Be patient, support the process and the results will come.

South Africa's strict Title Deed system has resulted in everyone having complete confidence in the accuracy of its data, but that does come at a price. That price is time.

Integrated Property Group Press Release


It's not really the process that bothers me, but rather the costs. The boom days where property increased by 20 - 30% p/a are over and will not return for a very long time. Durning those times banks were happy to loan 110% bonds as they know their risks. Property buyers were happy to loan 110% bonds as their investment off-set the legal fees. These days however, it's not so. Post 2008 buyers are far from stupid and understand that for every R1 million of property they buy, they have to fork out at least 50k from their pocket. That's an unrefundible 50k if I may add. 75 000 Estate Agents during the boom - 35 000 Estate Agents now. The question is, how many conveyancing lawyers have lost business? I'm assuming not that many as their profit margins for a tranfer are most likely over 1000%. And they have the balls to blame the banks?
Posted by James Peterson on March 29, 2012 at 12:15 PM SAST Report this Comment
Can someone please advise me on why there is a sliding increasing scale of transfer attorneys fees dependent on the price of the house? Surely the work is the same no matter the house costs R100000 or R10 million. Same documents, same process same time involved...So why is it not flat rated?
Posted by aj on March 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM SAST Report this Comment
3.4 months average for transfer? I put my offer in in April last year, have been living and paying occupational since September, and this morning they call me to say they can finally go ahead with transfer. 3.4 months would be a blessing.
Posted by Mike on March 29, 2012 at 02:07 PM SAST Report this Comment
AJ it's called making money for Transfering Attorneys. Needs investigation.
Posted by Dube on March 30, 2012 at 06:55 AM SAST Report this Comment
@ James: I can't speak for all Conveyancers but I can assure you that profit margins are paper thin in conveyancing and that there have been virtually no increases in the tariff in recent decades. This is despite the fact that legislation is heaping more and more extra obligations upon the conveyancer. It is for this reason that there have been massive retrenchments in conveyancing departments and many firm closures since 2008.
Posted by Gareth on April 02, 2012 at 08:40 AM SAST Report this Comment
@AJ: A flat rate would appear to be an ideal solution until you consider the implications. The flat rate would have to be somewhere in the middle of the tariff scale in order to be reasonable. This would massively advantage the rich and severely punish the poor. That would be disastrous, especially when you consider that affordable housing is currently the economic driver of the SA property industry. (Consider that estate agents operate on the same basis.)
Posted by Gareth on April 02, 2012 at 08:41 AM SAST Report this Comment
@ Mike: That sounds ridiculous and there must have been some unique aspects (or incompetence) to cause such a delay. Our target is 6 - 8 weeks from receiving the instruction, assuming that the buyer has no problems in obtaining finance.
Posted by Gareth on April 02, 2012 at 08:42 AM SAST Report this Comment
All independant statistical analisys indicates that South Africa ranks as one of the best in the world with regard to Security of Title. This is due to the expertise of all involved (conveyancers, deeds staff, etc.). If you seek to drive this expertise away, you end up having to take out Title Insurance (e.g. the USA) to compensate for the possibility that your Title Deed may be invalid.
Posted by Gareth on April 02, 2012 at 08:50 AM SAST Report this Comment


Denny Crane

Denny Crane
It's not me ... yet. Denny Crane from the TV series Boston Legal. Click on picture if you're not sure who he is!