Most certainly one of the most frequently asked questions a conveyancer get, is how long will the transfer take?

Each and every property transfer is unique and therefore the facts of each transfer first has to be assessed in order to estimate a date for registration. An average transfer can take up to 3 months. There are instances where the property can be registered in 6 weeks and, other instances where it can take up to 6 months.

It is very important to discuss the role-playing factors with your conveyancer which can and will influence the time it takes for the transfer to be registered.

Here is why it can take longer than anticipated;

Once the Offer to Purchase is accepted by the seller it gets sent to the conveyancer (the Transferring Attorney).

Upon receipt of the, now, Deed of Alienation the conveyancer wil scrutinize the contents of the said contract in order to establish the terms, in particular, the payment terms, suspensive conditions and miscellaneous terms.

If the offer is subject to the approval of a bond, the conveyancer must have proof that the bond has  in fact seen approved in order for the contract to be enforceable. Usually the “subject to bond approval clause” has a cut-off date for the purchaser to get approval of the bond. This itself can take up to 1 month.

Other suspensive conditions may provide that the agreement is subject to the successful sale of the Purchaser’s property. Again, the conveyancer must ensure that the conditions have been fulfilled before he can continue with the transfer. This can also be time consuming.

If it is a cash sale, and there are no existing bonds registered over the property, then it is possible to quickly deal with the transfer. If there is an existing bond on the property, the conveyancer has to satisfy the bank and/or financial institution in whose favour a bond had been registered (through the Cancellation Attorneys) that the outstanding bond, together with interest will be paid.

This is done as follows;

The Cancellation Attorneys apply to the financial institution, usually a bank for the cancellation figures. The financial institution then sends the cancellation figures to the Transferring Attorney, who then needs to give the financial institution a “guarantee” that the cancellation amount will be paid on registration of the transfer.

If the purchase was subject to the approval of a bond and the bond has been approved, it is the bond attorneys who will issue the required guarantees. The said guarantees are then sent to the bond cancellation attorneys for their approval and acceptance.

The entire process of requesting cancellation figures and ultimately providing the guarantees in itself can take up to 1 month.

What also takes time is to apply to the Local Municipality for Rates Clearance Figures, whose turnaround time is approximately 10 working days to provide the figures and 5 working days for issuing the certificate once the costs are paid to the Local Municipality in whose area the property is situated.

If the property is a Sectional Title Unit, the Body Corporate also has to issue a Levy Clearance Certificate which can take up to 10-20 working days.

If there is a Home Owners Association and there is a clause in the Title Deed which requires the consent of the sale from the Home Owners Association, such consent must be obtained. It can take between 10 and 15 working days to get the said consent.

The Transferring Attorney must apply to SARS for a Transfer Duty Exception Certificate or a Transfer Duty Receipt. The turnaround time for a Transfer Duty Exception Certificate is 5-10 working days, once applied for. The turnaround time for a Transfer Duty Receipt is a bit longer than the time for the issuing of the exception Certificate. The reason therefore is because the Transferring Attorney is first issued a Transfer Duty Assessment, turnaround times of 5-10 working days, once applied for. After the assessment is received the Transferring Attorney will pay the Transfer Duty to SARS. After payment, the turnaround time for the receipt to be issued is again  5-10 working days.

Above and beyond the aforesaid, the Transferring Attorney cannot proceed with any of the above processes, unless he is sufficiently provided with the required personal information, FICA information, and FICA affidavits from the Seller, the Purchaser and the Estate Agent.

It is important to provide the Transferring Attorney with all the required documents and information as complete and as soon as possible.

It cannot be emphasised enough that the above is only a guideline of the timeframes and role-players in a property transfer. Be sure to ask the relevant questions in the early stages of the transfer and to avoid frustration in the later stages.

How long should a property transfer take?