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Don't forget to ask these 6 questions when buying property

06 Nov 2019

Despite the depressed property climate in South Africa, there seems to be an upswing in market conditions, buoyed by more lenient lending criteria, lower house prices and steady interest rates. This is attractive to first-time buyers, and residential and commercial property investors alike.

It’s a buyer’s market right now, but before you rush into putting your signature on a property agreement, it would be wise to consult an attorney to guide the process.

Regardless if you are about to become a new homeowner or are a seasoned property buyer, there is much to contemplate before putting your signature on a property agreement, says PJ Veldhuizen, MD of Gillan and Veldhuizen.

Appointing a conveyancing attorney upfront in property transactions should be "uncontroversial", he says. "Very often, your commercial property or residential home will be your most valuable asset you sell or buy, and without having a commercial or conveyancing attorney in place to have a good read through before signing a property agreement, or indeed prepare it, would make it very difficult to come back after an agreement is signed to try to renegotiate the terms."

“More and more today we see people wanting to save money on legal fees, for good reasons, but one has to be careful not to be pennywise and pound foolish - there is significant value in consulting a specialist to go over your property agreements to make sure your house is in order,” he says.

Veldhuizen says besides the obvious, there are points you may have neglected to consider when buying a property:

1. How certain are you that the building built on the land has legitimate building plans?

2. How sure are you that the property has the correct zoning for your intended use for it?

3. Is there a site development plan (SDP) which applies to your property, particularly if you intend to renovate?

4. Are there heritage issues to considered?

5. If you are buying into a sectional title block, how aware are you of the state of financials of the body corporate? You will want to avoid ‘special levy’ surprises.

6. How sure are you of the boundary pegs of the property? And would you consider having a surveyor check these?

“It’s a buyer’s market right now, but before you rush into putting your signature on a property agreement, it would be wise to consult an attorney to guide the process, someone who will have your best interests at heart and be able to navigate the inevitable fine print when drawing up the necessary documents,” says Veldhuizen.

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