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Buying or Selling a house

Before reading this article, note that we use the term sale agreement. A sale agreement is also referred to as a deed of sale, offer to purchase or a contract of sale or something similar. It is the same thing – an agreement to buy or sell property.

Buying a Home

Buying a home is probably the biggest and most important investment you will ever make.

When you do find your dream home and before you sign any deed of sale, make use of the following simple guidelines :

1. Examine the house thoroughly. Enquire about the roof, gutters, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. Should you have any doubts at all consult an expert to examine the house. Should there be any faults make provision in the deed of sale for their correction by the seller. Most agreements provide that a house is bought “voetstoots” – or as is. If you do not mention that the Seller is to repair a particular defect then you buy the house with that defect.

2. Make sure you understand the deed of sale and its implications before you sign. If you are in any doubt, give the document to your attorney to examine before signing and ask him or her to clarify anything that is not clear.

3. Enquire about any costs, for example transfer costs  your attorney and most estate agents will be able to inform you about these aspects.

4. Ensure that your finances are sound. Should you have to take out a bond, make provision for the costs of registering the bond  once again your attorney and most estate agents should be able to tell you about this. Furthermore, ensure that you can afford the monthly bond payment, even if interest rates increase.

5. Ensure that the deed of sale provides for the issue of borer free and electrical clearance certificates at the expense of the seller.

6. Does the seller require a deposit on the selling price? Should this be the case arrange for payment in trust to an attorney and for safekeeping in a savings account until the house is in your name. Ensure that you receive the interest on the deposit.

7. Take note of the date of occupation in the deed of sale. Should you move in before the house is transferred to you, you would be expected to pay rent  should the sale fall through after you have moved in, you would naturally have to move out again with the attendant expense and inconvenience.

Selling your Home

Should you be planning to sell your most important investment, be aware of the legal aspects involved.

We suggest you follow these easy guidelines :

1. Keep your house neat and clean so that it is attractive to prospective buyers.

2. Consult your attorney concerning your rights and obligations.

3. Approach one or more estate agents of your choice to list your property. Make certain that an estate agency has the capacity and skill to market your property adequately before granting that agency a sole mandate.

4. If you sell privately, it is recommended that you instruct your attorney to draw up the sale agreement. If you sell through an agent, make sure you fully understand the agreement and its implications before you sign. Do not hesitate to consult your attorney before you sign.

5. Before you sign, find out what commission is payable to the estate agent.

6. Give the estate agent the name of your attorney  your attorney will deal with the conveyancing and ensure that the house is transferred to the buyer. He will also organise the finances and ensure that you receive your money.


The following is a list of the most important requirements that should be covered in a deed of sale. It should be noted, however, that this list is not complete as each transaction has its own individual requirements.

*The names and marriage status (eg. married in or out of community of property) or capacity (when a company is involved) of the parties concerned, as well as the parties’ addresses.

*The description and size of the property as detailed in your deed of transfer.

*The price and manner of payment.

*The provision that the buyer pays all transfer costs.

*The name of the attorney handling the transfer (normally and advisedly the seller’s attorney).

*The date of taking occupation.

*The provision that the buyer is responsible for all levies or rates from the date of taking possession.

*The provision that the house is sold “voetstoots” (as is) – in other words without any guarantee on your part regarding visible or hidden faults.

*The commission due and the name of the estate agent.

*Should the date of occupation be before the date of transfer, that the buyer pays either interest on the price or rent until the date of transfer. The amount and manner of payment must be stipulated.

*Whether borer and electrical certificates should be obtained and if so who should pay for the inspection and any work required.

*The statutory requirement that if the purchase price does not exceed R250 000,00 the Purchaser has the right to withdraw from the sale within 5 days.

*Any special conditions, for example :

** listing any articles excluded from the sale ;

**whether the sale is subject to the buyer obtaining a bond or the sale of the buyer’s house.

Should you wish, your attorney will draw up the deed of sale.

A special deed of sale must be drawn up should the buyer wish to pay off the selling price over an extended period of time. This is a relatively complex agreement and you are strongly urged to instruct your attorney to draw up such deed of sale.


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Legal Topics

For the information of our clients, we have prepared articles on certain aspects of law that may be of interest. Please note that these are not detailed expositions of the law but are for information and interest only. Please obtain professional advice before you act in any way.