One of the most stressful experiences is said to be selling your home. Often it’s not so much the selling, it’s the moving – and everything that goes with it.
Both seller and buyer anxiously await the registration of transfer of ownership. Most sales contracts will have a date for transfer on which this is meant to take place. This could be a specific date, or it could be written to coincide with possession and occupation being given to the purchaser.
In many cases the possession or occupation is stated to be the date that registration takes place. In such an instance, a buyer cannot move into a property if transfer is delayed, unless the parties agree to a change and occupational rental being paid.
At the very least, a delay in transfer usually has financial implications for the seller as they only receive the proceeds of the sale on transfer.
There is a long list of boxes that need to be ticked from when a contract is concluded, to when transfer takes place. When a sale is concluded a Conveyancing attorney is appointed (usually by the seller). The conveyancer effectively runs the transfer process right through to registration. In many instances they will have to liaise with other parties, which could include a bond registration attorney (registering the bond for the purchaser), and a bond cancellation attorney (cancelling the bond for the seller).
Earlier this year there were significant delays in obtaining Rates Clearance certificates from the City of Cape Town – but these issues seem to be resolved now. Sometimes a delay in the issue of Transfer Duty receipts from SARS or a backlog at the Deeds Office can delay matters.
The Cape Town Deeds Office is running efficiently at the moment – currently on 12 days from lodgment (when the transfer papers are handed in at the Deeds Office) to actual registration, and this could well drop to 10 days or less soon.
Sadly the biggest reason for delays is poor service from certain Conveyancing or Bond attorneys. In same cases it’s just shoddy work, with errors in the paperwork resulting in the Deeds Office rejecting the transfer. Whilst we’re all human, it’s typically the same attorneys who repeatedly disappoint.
In other cases we experience attorneys not allowing for the changes in timing that could be anticipated. For example, if rates clearance takes 2 weeks longer than normal, wouldn’t it make sense to apply 2 weeks earlier?
Even in cases where the attorney is not at fault, good communication to the buyer and seller gives them the opportunity to make alternative arrangements. This is especially important if it impacts on their moving date, or means they need to arrange for bridging finance.
On the positive, there are a number of outstanding Conveyancing attorneys who deliver world-class service and move heaven and earth to get transfers through on time. So next time you select the attorney to handle your transfer make sure you do so on the strength of a good recommendation and strong track record.
Principal of Harcourts Platinum, and Director of Harcourts South Africa
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