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Private, commercial and corporate properties are being bought and sold on a continual basis. Companies and families grow or shrink in size and their accommodation needs change accordingly. But buying or selling a property is not a simple matter, such as buying an item from your local store. In such cases, you make your choice, hand over your money, obtain a receipt and leave with your purchase – transaction ended. Buying immovable property, however, is entirely another matter which calls for specially trained legal conveyancers to draw up the papers, get them signed and then submitted to the appropriate authorities to complete the registration of the property into the buyer’s name, amongst other responsibilities.
The services and expertise of a conveyancer are required where immovable property is being bought or sold. Immovable property relates to buildings which have solid foundations and remain ‘in situ’ from the day that they are built, and does not include movable accommodation such as mobile homes which are popular in America and the United Kingdom which can be re-sited any number of times. Such ‘manufactured’ homes are considered to be personal property rather than permanent buildings, and therefore not deemed to be immovable property. Prefabricated homes which are not built on solid concrete foundations would also, therefore, fit into this category.
A conveyancer is a qualified attorney who has been admitted as a conveyancer of the High Court of South Africa, following successful completion of the prescribed conveyancing examinations. The legal process of transferring and re-registering immovable property from one person (the seller) name to another person (the buyer) takes place through a legal process called conveyancing. This transfer is recorded in a deed of transfer which is registered in the Deeds Registry Office. This process is not just a nicety, but more of a means of recorded security of ownership.
There are generally three different types of conveyancing attorneys involved in the property buying/selling process, these being :
All of the above attorneys are involved in ensuring that the sale proceeds as smoothly as possible, and they also oversee problems which could crop up due to latent defects on the property which have not been declared by the seller which could result in required conformance certificates from electricians, building inspectors, plumbers and pest control not being issued timeously. The conveyancer does most of the actual work involved in the follow-up to the sale of any property, and is also responsible for the collection and payment of any financial obligations of both the seller (if in default) and the buyer. The conveyancer should be fully aware of and ensure that both the seller and the purchaser are informed of and understand any suspensive conditions included in the Offer to Purchase, for instance, any specific timing or dates by which the purchaser has to obtain bond approval or sell his current property. The conveyancer is also responsible for obtaining all necessary signatures, ensuring that the seller is aware of his obligations according to the offer to purchase, preparing and submitting the necessary documentation to the Deeds Office, informing the seller when the registration has gone through and the property ownership has been transferred, and submitting an accounting of all financial affairs relating to the sale no later than two days after registration is complete.
There are 11 Deeds offices throughout South Africa, which fall under the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and only conveyancers are qualified to deal with the transfer and registration of properties in the Deeds office.
Properties are changing hands on a continual basis, and on average there are about 25 estate agents to every one conveyancing attorney in this country. Conveyancers may be found through adverts in reputable Architectural, House and Home magazines and publications, through recommendations by estate agents themselves, or by looking through the Yellow Pages. But, as with so many other professions, conveyancers are now advertising their services online, and a search site such as Uptasker is one of the best methods of finding the right conveyancer in the area in which the property to be sold/bought is situated – even if it is in another province altogether. Uptasker lists in geographical areas, which cuts down search times tremendously, particularly if you are buying or selling a property in different province to the one in which you live. Uptasker also supplies online ratings and customer reviews, allowing you to gauge the professionalism, service and general public opinion of any supplier. A very useful aspect of Uptasker’s site is the ‘one-click’ links to suppliers’ websites, if available, which saves time, aggravation and frayed nerves when the pressure is on to find the right supplier at short notice.
Unless you are exceptionally savvy and know property law inside-out, you will want to employ the services of a conveyancer in any property sales, whether private, commercial or corporate. It’s only in a perfect world that everything goes according to plan without any hitches of any kind. If you are in the process of buying or selling immovable property, you will definitely need to use the services of a reliable and highly professional conveyancer to submit and move things as quickly as possible through the Deeds Office, settle disputes if they arise, prod slow-moving processes along and ensure that all financial affairs are handled professionally and timeously. Protecting yourself (and your property), whether you are a seller or a buyer, is the most important factor at the end of the day. For more tips, see our conveyancer articles.
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