Get prop­erty-buy­ing ba­sics right

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

DE­SPITE on­go­ing me­dia pub­lic­ity about prop­erty law and reg­u­lar dis­cus­sion on these mat­ters at a range of sem­i­nars and train­ing ses­sions, many South African home­buy­ers and sell­ers re­main ig­no­rant of the ba­sic le­gal­i­ties of prop­erty trans­ac­tions, says Lan­ice Stew­ard, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Anne Porter Knight Frank.

“It has be­come nec­es­sary to in­sist that agents give clients a short run­down on the le­gal­i­ties sur­round­ing prop­erty trans­ac­tions. First-time home­buy­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, tend to have ab­so­lutely no idea how prop­erty is bought and sold and how to go about get­ting bonds.

“When the deal looks as if it will go through, one of the most com­mon mis­takes is lack of ap­pre­ci­a­tion that signed con­tracts are legally bind­ing.

“If a bet­ter of­fer or prospect comes up, buy­ers can­not sim­ply change their minds. Some young buy­ers have heard about the ‘cool­ing off ’ clause and think it ap­plies across the board. In fact it ap­plies only to prop­er­ties val­ued at un­der R250 000.”

An­other com­mon first-time buyer mis­take is to un­der­es­ti­mate the costs of trans­fer du­ties, at­tor ney’s fees and deeds of­fice costs.

She says some clients are scared of doc­u­men­ta­tion and try to avoid putting mat­ters in writ­ing un­til the 11th hour.

“This can be dis­as­trous when sub­mit­ting of­fers, be­cause apart from the fact that writ­ten of­fers put agents in a far stronger po­si­tion to ne­go­ti­ate, it is il­le­gal to make such of­fers ver­bally.

“In­ex­pe­ri­enced buy­ers of­ten show a marked re­luc­tance to in­vade a home­owner’s pri­vacy. As a re­sult they fail to in­spect homes care­fully and never fully ap­pre­ci­ate the par­tially la­tent de­fects and flaws. Good agents will in­sist on faults be­ing listed in writ­ing, but noth­ing can re­place a hands-on in­spec­tion.

“When buy­ing a prop­erty al­ways ask for the home plans. It is es­sen­tial to see these. Once you have them, hold onto them. Some years ago a fire at the deeds of­fice de­stroyed sev­eral hun­dred plot plans, leav­ing own­ers who did not have copies with no op­tion but to have them re­drawn by pro­fes­sion­als.”

And if you are plan­ning to buy a prop­erty us­ing a trust, a close cor­po­ra­tion or a com­pany as the hold­ing ve­hi­cle, you should take note that this ve­hi­cle must have a tax num­ber and the taxes must be fully paid up.

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