The role of your estate agent is critical to you, as the seller, in obtaining the best price for your property. However, once the paperwork has been completed there is much to be done to get the property to transfer to the new purchasers. In this process there are many potential pitfalls that can be very costly, for seller and purchaser alike.
For that reason it’s imperative that an efficient and experienced conveyancing attorney is selected. In most cases the seller selects the conveyancer, and the purchaser pays for their fees.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that all conveyancers are equal. They are not – I guarantee it. I’ve seen many a sale fall through, or be significantly delayed, due to the poor efforts of the attorneys and shocking communication. So when it comes to selecting your conveyancing attorney I would recommend you investigate what their track record is, and what service they agree to give.
First, determine what level of communication they are prepared to give you. Will they give you weekly updates? Some attorneys have a personal client login where you can track the progress of the transaction. Will they update the purchaser and estate agent as well? What is their process when they encounter a problem or delay and what is their minimum response time?
We’ve often had the unfortunate experience of working with conveyancers (nominated by the seller) that give almost no communication and feedback. Days, even weeks can go by without any response to phone calls and emails. We’ve even had some conveyancers tell us they charge extra for updates – shocking in the modern business environment.
There are many pitfalls that conveyancers need to navigate. There can often be delays with rates clearance certificates, compliance certificate issues, Deeds Office problems, and the like. How efficient and pro-active they are in resolving these issues can make a huge difference. If the conveyancer can anticipate delays and take preventative measures then these delays can be minimized. A delay of a few months can cost the seller or purchaser tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Rands.
Sometimes there are disputes between seller and purchaser. A skilled conveyancer intervenes to find solutions to the problems so that the sale can proceed in the best interests of all parties. I’ve seen expert conveyancers save many sales that average conveyancers would have allowed to fall through. Their intervention makes an immeasurable difference.
When you list your property for sale it’s wise to select your conveyancer early. Do your homework. Ask for references. Interview more than one so that you can compare their offerings. Even better – ask them for a proposal and service commitment in writing. You may be surprised at what you get.
There are some truly outstanding conveyancing attorneys out there who are worth every cent of their fee. Select wisely – it could save you some serious money and stress.
Principal of Harcourts Platinum
Director of Harcourts South Africa