The property registration and transfer process

The complexities of the registration and transfer process in a property sale can be daunting – different attorneys and representatives are suddenly involved, and it can feel overwhelming, especially for first time buyers, says Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group.

“The process is generally standardised and streamlined these days. All the professionals involved are highly qualified, and with the help of a good estate agency, it shouldn’t be too stressful a time for buyers or sellers.”
Unless it’s a cash purchase, the first thing to be done after the seller accepts an offer to purchase is for the buyers to finalise their bond.

“Most offer to purchase agreements are subject to bond approval, so it’s a vital first step to get the ball rolling,” says Clarke. “The buyers will need to supply their chosen bank – or bond originator – with a copy of the signed agreement, and the bank will then arrange a property valuation and credit check before giving approval in the form of a letter of grant.”

Once the bond is approved, the buyers and sellers will both need to sign the deed of sale, facilitated by the sellers’ estate agent, and the buyers will need to pay any agreed-upon deposit. After that, it’s time to start nominating and notifying the necessary attorneys.

“The sellers nominate the transfer attorney, the sellers’ bank nominates the cancellation attorney, and the buyers’ bank nominates the registration attorney,” says Clarke. “They all set to work simultaneously on their designated parts of the transfer and registration process, assisted where necessary by the sellers’ estate agent to keep things moving smoothly.”

The transfer attorney begins by collecting supporting documents from the buyers and sellers, including rates clearance certificates from the municipality, and the title deed and bond cancellation figures for the sellers provided by the cancellation attorney. The transfer attorney will then prepare a draft deed of transfer to supply to the buyers’ registration attorney, along with a request for guarantees.

The draft deed of transfer is used by the registration attorney to draw up the buyers’ bond documentation. The buyers will need to sign the documentation and pay the associated fees before the bond can be registered at the deeds office. Around the same time, the transfer attorney should have the transfer papers ready for the buyers and sellers to sign. 

Once this has taken place, the buyers will need to pay the transfer costs as well.

“Meanwhile, in the background, the cancellation attorney will be handling the process of cancelling the sellers’ existing bond on the property,” says Clarke, “assuming, of course, that they have one. All three sets of final documents – the transfer documents, the new bond information, and the title deed and bond cancellation information – will then be lodged with the deeds office, to be registered simultaneously.”

At the deeds office, all the documents are thoroughly checked and the registration transaction is prepared for execution.

“Transfer normally takes place on a prearranged date specified in the original agreement between buyers and sellers,” says Clarke. “On that date, the buyers’ bank pays out the bond, the sellers’ bond cancellation is settled, and the estate agent is paid his commission. Anything left over goes to the sellers as profit, and the buyers take official ownership of the property.”

Clarke says the whole process can take up to three months, but there are very few steps in which buyers and sellers are actively involved.

“As long as you’re working with a good estate agent and a trustworthy legal team, you should be able to sit back and relax while they handle the intricacies as quickly and smoothly as possible. It might look complicated from the outside, but done right, it should also be relatively pain free.”

Here is a visual aid to the transfer process: Transfer Process of Immovable Property

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