First time property buyers: The role of the Conveyancing Attorney explained.

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first_property_BThe term “conveyancing” describes the legal process whereby a person, company, close corporation or trust becomes the registered and lawful owner of fixed property and ensures that such ownership cannot be challenged. It also includes the process of the registration of Mortgage Bonds.

The Conveyancer is the transfer attorney who handles the transfer of property rights on immovable properties from sellers to buyers. To act as a conveyancer, attorneys must be qualified in that specific field of law.  The Conveyancing attorney’s main function is therefore to coordinate the transfer of property rights and to ensure that the process is done according to legal requirements.

The transferring attorney and the bond registration attorney can be, and usually are, from two different unrelated firms.  The Seller generally appoints his chosen attorney to attend to the transfer (the buyer however pays the fees involved) while the decision of who attends to the registration of the mortgage bond is the bank’s.

A first time property purchase transaction is usually pretty daunting and the prospective novice buyer should keep in mind that there are two legal processes in the purchase of a property: the first being entering into a deed of sale, drawing up of the transfer documentation and the registration of the property into the buyer’s name. At the same time, in a second process, the bond on the property has to be registered and lodged with the Deeds Office.

One of the most frequently asked questions is why, if the buyer of a property is paying the conveyancing attorney, the seller has the right to appoint him. The most common answer is that it is logical because in a property transaction the seller is far more at risk than the buyer. Most conveyancers’ fees are similar due to the fact that they are prescribed and regulated by the law societies of the region in which the property is situated, however it is not uncommon for the buyer to ask for a specific conveyancer to be appointed because this conveyancer has offered a reduced fee.

After an agreement of sale has been concluded, a conveyancer is appointed and instructions are sent to him by the estate agent, including the names of the buyer and seller, a copy of the agreement of sale, and the passport numbers and marital status of the buyer and seller. The whole process gets under way and the appointed conveyancer then drafts all the necessary documents and arranges for signature thereof by all the parties concerned.

A good conveyancer is definitely worth their fees in more ways than one, because they can save you much more money in the conveyancing process. A conveyancer that provides a full comprehensive service can also cover the entire purchase process in depth, providing support and advice where you need it, when you need it.  It is advisable to consult a knowledgeable attorney or conveyancer even before the deed of sale is signed to make sure that your rights as a first time buyer are protected.

Here are a few foolproof tips to ensure that the right conveyancer is handling your transaction, whether you are the seller or buyer:

  • Choose a firm that specialises in conveyancing, either a stand alone provider, or a dedicated division of a larger firm. Small family practices may have a reassuring bedside manner, but this is no substitute for depth of experience.
  • Word of mouth is often the best way to find a conveyancer. Ask your family and friends who they have used before and what experience they have had. This will make the stress of the whole process mush easier if you can trust a reliable recommendation.
  • You should have a single contact person, easily accessible by a direct line/ mobile and willing to be contacted out of office hours.
  • Conveyancing jargon can be somewhat confusing, so choose a conveyancer who will speak to you in plain English as you do not want to be hassled with bewildering language
  • Always ask to be told about ALL costs up front so that there are no nasty surprises later on.
  • When a conveyancer provides you with a quote, check it carefully, look out for two or three key phrases such as “fixed fee” or “All inclusive” which guarantee value, and be alert to the warning signs of sharp or impersonal practice.

At the end of the day most people will agree that buying a new home is one of the most stressful things you can do so you want to ensure you choose the right people to help guide you through the process.

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