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10 questions to ask your attorney when buying a house

From who to pay your deposit to, to how long the transfer process will take (and where to pick up the keys), these are the top questions to ask your conveyancer.

Questions to ask when buying a house

Article summary

  • A conveyancing attorney is trained to deal with issues specific to the law of real estate and is an invaluable resource when buying a new home.
  • You will probably have questions for your attorney about your deposit: where it needs to be paid and whether it can be invested in an interest-bearing account.
  • Questions concerning the transfer and registration process – the signing of documents, the timelines, the costs, and so on – may also crop up.

Buying a home will probably be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. It also involves the law of real estate, which is unique and raises special issues of practice not present in other transactions. Enter the conveyancer, an attorney trained to deal with these particular issues and an invaluable source of information on buying and financing a home.

Stay in the know by asking your attorney these 10 key questions…

1. To whom do I pay the deposit?

This will depend on what your contract says. Your deposit can be paid either to the estate agency or the conveyancers appointed to handle the transfer. They both have trust accounts where your money is protected. Please ensure you receive the appropriate receipts. Don’t pay your deposit directly to the seller or to an individual estate agent.

2. Who gets the interest on the deposit?

Unless otherwise agreed, the interest is paid to you after registration of transfer. On your written authority, both your estate agent and conveyancer can arrange for it to be invested in an interest-bearing account, and will act in your interests by placing it in the best short-term investment available.

3. To whom do I pay the occupational rent?

Your occupational rent goes to the estate agent or the conveyancer. They will usually pay it into the seller’s bond account or directly to the seller. You could pay it directly into the seller’s bond account if so agreed, but you may be required to provide proof of payment each month.

4. When will I have to sign the transfer documents?

A few weeks after the sale agreement is signed. Usually your conveyancer will wait until the bond is granted and he or she has received the cancellation figures for the seller’s existing bond. Only then can the guarantee authority forms be completed and signed. You can phone the conveyancer for an update at any time.

5. How long will the transfer take to register?

This depends on the circumstances and due dates for the bond grant, and on the guarantees stipulated in the deed of sale. The average for most sales is about three months from the date of sale. When there are no complications, registration can happen within two months. If there are complications, registration can be delayed. If this is the case, you will need to stay in touch with your conveyancer.

6. What will my transfer and bond costs be?

Your ooba home finance expert or estate agent and attorney should be able to answer this question based on a schedule of transfer and bond costs. The actual transfer fees depend on the purchase price of the property. Bond costs depend on the total home loan registered – and whether you are buying in your own name or in a trust, close corporation, or company. Your attorney will give you the exact costs.

7. When must my transfer costs be paid?

This usually happens a few weeks after the sale, when you sign your documents. Your conveyancer will require payment, since he or she has to pay the transfer duty – the major charge on most transfers – in advance, as well as the rates or levies due, to obtain a clearance certificate. Don’t delay making a payment – it will unnecessarily delay the transfer.

8. Who will register the transfer bond?

The bank will have a local panel of conveyancers for bonds, and one of these will be instructed to register your bond. If the transfer conveyancer is one of those on the panel, he or she will probably do the bond registration as well. The bond costs will be the same, though your transfer may go through faster if the same conveyancer does both.

9. Who will contact me on registration?

Your conveyancer’s secretary should contact you on registration to advise you. You will also be given a final statement of the account. Your estate agent may phone you to confirm registration. The bank will send you a letter advising you of the registration of your bond, and the date when your first installment is payable.

10. Where will I get the keys to the property?

It is best to make an arrangement with your estate agent to pick up the keys from them on the agreed day of occupation.

South Africa’s leading bond originator offers a range of home loan calculators to help people looking to buy a home determine what they can afford. Click here to access ooba’s free, online prequalification tool, the ooba Bond Indicator. Then, when you’re ready, you can get prequalified or apply for a home loan with ooba.

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