Selling your home? Choose your conveyancing attorney wisely

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Picking the right legal property specialist is essential to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership when selling your home.

For most people, your home is your most valued asset, even when making the decision to sell. Which is why it is critical to ensure the transaction process is handled by a conveyancer that you can trust to act with both speed and integrity.

Transfer Duties:

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, there are three different conveyancers who play a hand in transferring property ownership:

  • Transferring Attorneys: Generally appointed by the seller to represent them in handling the responsibility for the transfer of the property from the seller to the buyer.

  • Registering (or Bond) Attorneys: Representatives of the buyer and the bank granting the buyer's home loan. Their responsibility is to register the bond over the property in favour of the bank who is financing the purchase of the property.

  • Cancellation Attorneys: Appointed representatives of the bank cancelling the seller's home loan. Their responsibility is to cancel the seller's existing home loan on the property.

Although it’s the bank’s responsibility to appoint attorneys for the bond registration and cancellation process, the transferring attorney can however, be appointed by the seller.

The importance of choosing wisely:

The process of selling and transferring your valued property can have many pitfalls if the correct advice is not received. This is why it is imperative to be cautious and maintain a serious regard for your own interests when choosing the right attorney to take responsibility for the transfer of ownership.

It is not just about finding the right attorney to enable a smooth handover. It is also ensuring that the correct advice and guidance is received and that your best interests are considered at all times.

It is advisable to appoint an established law firm that specialises in property law and has the capability to manage and speed up the transfer process while giving you frequent and relevant feedback.

Don’t be bullied by estate agents:

Choosing your own transfer conveyancer is important for the simple fact of protecting your rights.

In many instances real estate companies place pressure on a seller to appoint a specific attorney to manage their property transactions.

According to Goslett, “there have been cases where agencies have forced their clients to make use of attorneys that are situated more than 100km away from both the buyer and seller’s physical address.”

This however, is prohibited in accordance to the Estate Agents Affairs Board code of conduct, which stipulates that agents are not permitted to force a seller to use a specific attorney firm.

It is unreasonable for any estate agent to enforce the use of an attorney that is not situated in a local area, as one of the steps required in the transfer process is the signing of documentation at the appointed attorney’s office. Using an attorney that is far away may result in paying higher conveyancing fees which wouldn’t be the ideal choice to make.

Choosing the best in the trade:

It is advisable to select an attorney who is well-versed and specializes in the property transfer process to ensure that they are able to efficiently combat any serious issues which may arise during the transfer process.

Choosing a conveyancer that provides a fully comprehensive service and knows the ins and outs of the transfer process will not only provide beneficial support and advice to you, but will also ensure that the transfer process is completed in a timeous manner.

The turnaround period:

The process of transferring property ownership should generally take between two and three months until finalized. Delays can be expected in instances where relevant documentation or certificates are not in order and ready to be processed.

There are certain legislative rules that need to be followed by the transfer attorney like obtaining a rates clearance certificate from the local council. According to Goslett, “Sellers are often required to pay a few months’ rates in advance in order to obtain their clearance certificate. Once the transfer is complete, any money that has been overpaid will be refunded to the seller.”

Most people will agree that the buying and selling a home is one of the most stressful things you can do, which is why choosing the right people to help guide you through the process is beneficial in ensuring an effortless transfer.

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