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10 Questions you need to ask when buying a house

From who to pay your deposit to, to how long the transfer process will take, these are the top questions to ask when buying a house.

Questions to ask when buying a house

Article summary

  • Buying a home is a significant life decision, and you’ll want to be as informed about the process as possible.
  • You will probably have questions 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. As such, you’ll want to be informed on the home buying process.

The 10 questions you need to ask

Stay in the know by asking these 10 key questions…

1. To whom do I pay the deposit?

This will depend on what your sales contract says. Normally the deposit is paid to the estate agent or transferring attorney, but ooba Home Loans offers a strong alternative with Buyers Trust. This safe and secure service protects you from the risks of having your deposit phished. Buyer Trust creates a bank account with one of the major banks in your name, you transfer your deposit directly into that account, and Buyers Trust administers the account under a specific investment mandate provided by you. You can view the account at any time and receive statements, providing 100% transparency on your investment.

Never 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, if your deposit is invested with your estate agent or conveyancer, they can arrange for it to be invested in an interest-bearing account, and they will act in your interests by placing it in the best short-term investment available. If you choose Buyers Trust to protect your deposit, all interest earned is paid to you when the transaction concludes.

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 Loans 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, but you can get a good indication using ooba’s bond and transfer cost calculator.

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 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.

When you’re satisfied with your understanding of the process, and are ready to buy a home, bear in mind that ooba Home Loans offers a range of tools that can make the home buying process easier. Start with their Bond Calculator, then use the ooba Home Loans Bond Indicator to determine what you can afford. Finally, when you’re ready, you can apply for a home loan.

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