Written for YourProperty

This week’s Property Poser reader wants to know more or less how long the process of selling a house through an estate agent would take and what fees he would be liable for.

Our panel of experts outlines the selling process and points out the costs involved in the sales transaction.

Warren Jack from the Warren Jack Property Group in Port Elizabeth says the standard period for the finalisation of a transfer – from the date of the sale until the date of registration of the transfer at the deeds office – is approximately six weeks. However, various factors may lengthen or shorten this period.

For example, he says, if the property is purchased by a cash buyer and the seller does not have an existing bond, such a transaction may be registered in as little as three to four weeks.

“On the other hand,” says Jack, “if the buyer must first obtain a bond or sell an existing property, it may take months before the transaction can be finalised.”

He says normally the parties will agree to a date for the transfer of the property into the name of the buyer and to a date on which the buyer will take occupation of the property. “A buyer can take occupation of the property on the agreed date and will thereafter pay occupational rent to the seller until the property is registered in his or her name.”

Jack says it is important for sellers to bear in mind that banks require 90 days written notice of the intended cancellation of a bond to avoid penalties, and they must therefore factor this period into the timeline of the sale of their properties.

He says as part of the transfer process the conveyancer will have to obtain a rates clearance certificate from the municipality and a transfer duty receipt from the South African Revenue Service (SARS). These documents must be lodged at the deeds office with the rest of the transfer documentation to enable the Registrar of Deeds to register the transfer.

Grant Howard, conveyancing attorney at Kaplan Blumberg in PE, says it is a requirement that the buyer must pay the transfer costs – or at least a big portion thereof – to the conveyancer as soon as he or she is requested to do so. “This enables the conveyancer to make the necessary payments to the municipality and to SARS.”

He says a standard account for a transfer will include the conveyancer’s fee, which is calculated according to a guideline issued by the various law societies in the country.

The account will include a pro rata portion of rates and taxes – which must be paid in advance to the municipality – as well as transfer duty payable to SARS.

Finally, says Howard, the account will include deeds office registration fees and smaller disbursements like the municipality’s fee for issuing the rates clearance certificate.

“If the buyer registers a bond simultaneously with the transfer of the property, then the bond attorney will also render an account that must be paid by the buyer prior to the date of transfer.”

According to Howard, this account will include the bond attorney’s fee, which is determined by the amount of the bond. Some other items that may be included in this account are the deeds office registration and bank initiation fees.

“As a rule, the seller will be liable for the costs of the bond cancellation attorney as well as the costs relating to the issuing of electrical compliance and borer beetle clearance certificates.”

Howard says these costs are normally paid from the proceeds of the transaction, on the date of registration of the transfer.

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