Buying a property in South Africa can be a complicated business with various essential checks required to help ensure that all is in order with the property, including the legal status of the dwelling. Thankfully a good solicitor can help to guide you through the whole transaction process, which typically takes two to three months.
Residents and non-residents can own property without restrictions in South Africa, which arguably has the most sophisticated property registration system in the whole of Africa, helping to ensure that it is guaranteed and secure; people can freely access records of the property interest at the office of the Registrar of Deeds.
In order to purchase a property in South Africa the buyer must provide the following documents:
When making an offer on a property, an estate agent is legally obligated to prepare a written letter of offer. This will be submitted to the vendor for approval. Both parties must sign upon acceptance. Payment of a 10% deposit is generally paid at this point. The letter of offer effectively becomes an Agreement of Sale that is legally binding to both parties, and includes most, if not all, of the following information:
Once the contract is signed, the seller must appoint a property attorney, or conveyancer, to handle the formal processes of transfer. Your identification documents must be submitted for the registration procedure conducted at the Deeds Registry. This, and the settlement of all the government duties, is usually accomplished in about 10 weeks.
The role of the transferring attorney is to:
As soon as the purchaser’s name has been recorded as the new owner of the property, the remaining balance must be paid. The transferring attorney signs on behalf of the purchaser at the Deeds Office along with the Deeds Registrar and finalises all outstanding financial settlements.
If you want to acquire property in South Africa but are finding it difficult to spend the necessary time out there, you could potentially take out a Power of Attorney. This would enable the legal process to continue without you actually being in South Africa yourself. You can nominate a trusted individual, such as a friend, legal representative or relative based in South Africa, who will represent you in specified transactions but this must be recorded as a legal document.