The Right Attorney Can Speed Up Your Property Transfer


During a property sale transaction, selecting the right attorney for the job can make all the difference to how long the transfer process will take.

Conveyancing is a complex series of tasks that require extensive conveyancing knowledge, so choosing an attorney that is well versed in the property transfer process will ensure that minor problems do not become major issues.

In the property transfer and registration process, there are usually three different conveyancers involved: the bond attorney, the bond cancellation attorney and the transferring attorney.

During the property transfer process, the bond attorney will act on behalf of the financial institution that is providing the finance to the buyer.

Once a buyer has received bond approval from the bank or finance provider, the bond attorney will attend to registration of the bond in favour of the financial institution (mortgagee) over the specific property in question, which occurs simultaneously with transfer.

If the seller has an existing bond over the property, which would be the current bondholder, the bank holding that bond will instruct a bond cancellation attorney to attend to the cancellation of the seller’s bond.

Once guarantees have been provided for the outstanding bond amount and the relevant documents are signed by the bank, the bond cancellation attorney will be ready to cancel the seller’s bond.

While it is generally the relevant bank that will appoint both the bond attorney and the bond cancellation attorney, when it comes to transfers, in most instances, the seller will be able to appoint the transferring attorney.

This attorney will be responsible for handling the transfer of the property into the new owner’s name, and will co-ordinate the registration process with both the bond and cancellation attorneys, as all these processes must register simultaneously at the Deeds Office.

The transferring attorney plays an important role in protecting the interests of the seller and ensuring that there are no unnecessary delays.

The legal fees for attending to a transfer are based on a tariff calculated according to the value of the property, so the amounts charged from one law firm to the next will generally be very similar, so why not choose an attorney that specialises in property transfers and who has the required experience?

It is important that sellers appoint transferring attorney firms that are conveyancing practices, and are therefore experienced in the process of dealing with property transfers.

The transferring attorney used will have a large influence on the length of time that the process may take, so it makes sense to make the best decision.

During the transfer process the transferring attorneys are also required to comply with various regulatory and statutory provisions such as the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), the Transfer Duty Act and the Value Added Tax Act for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the Municipal Property Rates Act.

Buyers should prepare for the property transfer by having the following documentation and information available:

Some of these documents will be needed to meet the FICA requirements.

Sellers can assist in expediting the transfer process by having the following documents and information available:

On average the process takes around two or three months from the date of sale until the property is registered in the new owner’s name.

However, certain external aspects can delay the process, such as waiting for a stipulated condition in the contract to be fulfilled or obtaining a rates clearance certificate. South African law requires that before a property can be transferred, the transferring attorneys must obtain a rates clearance certificate from the local council.

Often a seller will be required to pay for a few months in advance in order to obtain their clearance certificate. Any over payment by the seller as at the date of transfer will be refunded back to the seller.

Working with a reputable, experienced attorney will ensure that the process is as quick and hassle free as possible.

Neil Parker Attorneys at your service.