Deeds office closure could cost R30m in interest

The Pretoria Deeds Office is set to close for three weeks during December in order to relocate, which could cause long delays in processing and come at a cost of more than R30 million in lost interest, according to an August 22 press release issued by Sotheby’s International Realty.

Schalk van der Merwe of Sotheby’s International Realty operated by Lew Geffen in Pretoria says, “The closure of the Deeds Office means no income for estate agents, developers and conveyancing attorneys for three weeks and delayed draw-downs from development bonds should you miss the cut-off date prior to closure.

“In addition, we can expect a backlog in registration of transfers and mortgage bonds that will be carried forward for months to come in 2006. It will be exacerbated by the existing backlog, specifically in data-capturing and delivery of titles.

“To the home-owner who has sold his house and hoped to settle his bond and pocket the proceeds of the sale, there are only three months left within which to lodge documentation with the Deeds Office, or transactions will only be registered towards the end of January 2006.”

Van Der Merwe notes that the Deeds Office in Pretoria, which registers around 3 000 transactions a day, is the largest of the nine deeds registries in the country. Its area of jurisdiction includes the Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West Provinces, as well as the greater part of Gauteng.

“Should the financial implications of each transaction be conservatively estimated at R200 000 per transaction, it means a daily turnover of R600 million. A backlog of 14 working days equates to R8,4 billion's worth of registrations that will be delayed, costing the economy in simple terms more than R30 million in interest alone.

“Builders and developers who require bond registrations and/or transfers or opening of township or sectional title registers before year-end to settle wages and sub-contractors before their annual builders holidays should make sure they get their documentation to the Deeds Office before closure, as there is bound to be a long and difficult queue in the new year.

“Deeds Office officials are positive that the move can be done in three weeks. They also say that most officials will remain on duty during this period, and believe that they will actually catch up rather than fall behind, due to the absence of the new lodgements and registrations.

“They charge around R R350 per transaction, so it is in their best interests to get up and running as soon as possible, as they will be losing around R1 million per day.”
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