Buying a house is probably one of the biggest and most important investments you will ever make. Property is a major asset and the seller, buyer and estate agent all have important but different -potentially conflicting interest - to consider when concluding a it makes sense for the seller to consult and appoint his/her attorney (rather than the agent's attorney) before signing a contract so that the property is transferred without delay.

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Buying a House

When you do find a house you wish to buy and before you sign any deed of sale (also sometimes referred to as an "offer to purchase") follow these simple guidelines: Examine the house thoroughly. Enquire about the roof, gutters, electrical wiring, foundation, etc. Should you have any doubts at all, consult an expert to examine the house. Should there be any defects, provide in the deed of sale their correction by the seller at his cost. Before you sign a deed of sale, give the document your attorney to examine .Ask about anything that is not clear. Enquire about any additional costs, such as rates and transfer costs. Your attorney will have the answers. All provisions and promises must form part of the written contract. Verbal agreements are not enforceable. A document signed by you and then accepted by the buyers could become a binding agreement. Ensure that your finances are sound. Should you need a bond, also make provision for the costs or valuation of the property and of registration, your attorney can tell you about this. If you are not certain whether you will be able to obtain a loan to provide for the purchase price and/or other costs, make the sale subject to obtaining for a loan. Ensure that the deed of sale provides for the issue of a beatle -free certificate at the expense of the seller in the Cape provinces and Kwa-Zulu Natal, and for a certificate of compliance in respect of the electrical installation in all provinces. Does the seller require a deposit on the selling price? Should this be the case, arrange for payment in trust to any attorney pending transfer and safekeeping in a special savings account until the house is in your name. With the consent of both parties the attorney may invest these monies subject to the condition that the interest earned will be for your own account. Take note of date of occupation in the deed of the sale. Should you move in before the house is in your name, you would be expected to pay rent. Make sure who is responsible for the payment of taxes, levies, and insurance premiums during the period. Should the sale fall through after you have moved in, you would naturally have to move out again with the attendant expense and inconvenience. If the seller wants to remove any items such as plants, cupboards etc. this needs to be explicitly set out in the contract. Any loose items (curtains, swimming pool equip-) must be specified.

Selling a House

Should you be planning to sell your house, do not lose the money earned by this investment by not knowing about the legal aspects involved. Follow these guidelines:

Keep your house and the premises neat and clean so that it is attractive to prospective buyers Consult your attorney concerning your rights and obligations. As the seller you have the right to appoint your attorney to handle the transfer. Do not allow an estate agent to convince you otherwise. Approach one or more estate agents of your choice to list your property. Do not give sole rights to sell the property to one agency without considering it very carefully. Your attorney will be able to advise you about this. When you find a buyer, do not sign any offer or deed of sale before your attorney has examined the document. All provisions and promises must form part of the written contract. Verbal agreements are not enforceable. Before you sign, find out what commission is payable to the estate agent and weather VAT is included. Give the estate agent the name of your attorney – your attorney will deal with the legal aspects and ensure that the house is transferred to the buyer; He will organize the finances and ensure that you receive your money. The following is a list of the most important requirements that should be met in deed of sale. However, this list is not complete as each transaction has its individual requirements. Should you wish to do so, your attorney can draw up the deed of sale. The names, Identity documents and marriage status (e.g. Married in or out of community of property) or capacity (when company is involved) of the parties concerned, as well as the purchasers and buyers address. The description and size of the property or stands detailed in your deeds of transfer The selling price and manner of payment. The provision that the buyer pays all transfer fees. The name of your attorney handling this transfer The date of taking possession and occupation The provision that the buyer is responsible for all taxes and municipal charges from the day of taking possession The provision that the house is sold ‘as is’ (in other words without any guarantee on your part regarding visible or hidden faults). The commission due and the name of the estate agent Should the date of occupancy be before the date of transfer, ensure that the buyer pays interest on the sale figure or rent until the date of transfer. The amount and manner of payment must be stipulated. The fact that no change to the deed of sale is valid unless it is in writing and signed by both parties. Weather a beetle-free certificate should be obtained (Cape provinces and Kwa-Zulu Natal) and if so who should pay for the inspection and work required. Any special conditions, for example: A list of any articles excluded from the sale Weather the sale is subject to the buyer obtaining a bond or the sale of the buyer’s house. Your attorney can advise you with regard to these conditions A special deed of sale should be drawn up should the buyer wish to pay the selling price over an extended period of time. This is a relatively complex issue which also holds certain risks and you are strongly urged to allow your attorney to draw up the deed of sale.


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