Checklist for sellers to follow to be safe
TO AVOID possible delays in sales, sellers need to ensure they comply with all regulations before putting their homes on the market, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank.
Zoning laws and building regulations have changed and more people are considering the implications of the Consumer Protection Act, so sellers should ensure that all alterations have approved building plans, she says.
“Owners sometimes make certain changes to their homes, such as enclosing a patio, without having plans approved. I would advise anyone who is in this situation to dig out the old plans and, if necessary, get the changes drawn up professionally and submit them to the local authority for approval. The delay in waiting for plans to be approved in retrospect is often avoidable and buyers can lose interest in properties if they have to wait a few months for complications with plans to be sorted out.
“Bear in mind that municipalities can demand that illegal buildings of any kind be demolished,” she says.
Before calling in an inspector to issue a plumbing certificate, check that there are no water leaks. Turn off the water supply to the property and check if the meter is still tick- ing over. If it does move then there is a leak somewhere and this needs to be fixed. Sellers must also ensure that all pool waste water and storm water is not going into the sewerage system.
If the roof leaks, get it repaired and get a guarantee from the contractor. Be sure the guarantee is properly completed, and applies to the house and not the owner of the house.
If you are ordering new gas cylinders for winter, be aware that the 48kg cylinders are illegal for residential properties. These should be swopped for smaller ones, says Steward.
Any plumbers or electricians who have worked on the house in getting it ready for sale should give the seller proof that their work complies with re gulations and t he seller should try to get a guarantee for this work if possible.
“Sometimes home owners don’t know about alterations that have been carried out, such as a case we came across where a tenant built a braai and a shed at the back of the property. These still needed plans and getting these done after the transfer is complicated. The seller of the property had to get these additions drawn up and approved, at his expense,” she says.
The most important thing is to disclose to the buyer and the agent anything that is amiss, so that problems can be rectified. Issues must be listed in the sales agreement or the condition report so that a full disclosure is attached to the offer to purchase.
“The various steps to getting a home ready for selling are there to protect the seller against later claims and a professional agent will make sure that this is done.
“Gone are the days where you could put your house on the market and hide behind the voetstoots clause. It is in the interest of sellers to take time to ensure the properties they are selling comply with all requirements.”