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Buying PropertyBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
South Africa - Buying Property
You can purchase holiday or retirement homes, or even live permanently in your house in beautiful South Africa. South Africans are drawn from different cultural and racial backgrounds. They are friendly people who welcome tourists and expats to their country. There are various types of properties in South Africa for people for investment or residential purposes.
There are close to 36,000 registered estate agents in South Africa. The agents usually charge a commission of between 4 and 8 percent. Properties for sale in South Africa vary from small bungalows and chalets to big condominiums. There are many types of agents in South Africa including local, national, international, and multi-national. You can find an agent of your choice through ads in the local publications, internet search, or through the yellow pages. South African real estate agents perform the same duties as their counterparts in the United States, Australia, or Europe.
Most South African agents are very organized and professional. The real estate industry in South Africa is regulated by the Estate Agency Affairs established by the government. Estate Agency Affairs requires all estate agents to be registered. To be registered, an agent should comply with the Board’s Code of Conduct. All South African real estate agents are awarded with a fidelity fund certificate annually.
All real estate agents must sit an examination in the field of estate agency or complete a year’s practical training. The training is usually supervised by a qualified estate agent. The Estate Agency Affairs welcomes any complaint against South African estate agents, whether it is over mismanaged funds or any other complaint.
Many people, especially from the United Kingdom prefer to work with real estate agents in their countries with offices in South Africa. Others prefer estate agents who work with one or more South African agents. Foreign estate agents are usually expensive because the property buying and selling process may involve a handful of professionals who all must be paid. In addition, some local property owners hike prices when dealing with expats because of a common misconception that expats are usually rich.
South African estate agents charge different commissions. However, the national standard range between 5 and 7.5 percent including VAT (Value Added Tax). It is important to know that some sellers charge a fixed commission. Cheap properties attract higher fees as far as the percentage of the entire sale is concerned. Expensive properties attract negotiable fees. You have the right to negotiate the agent’s commission because there is no set rule governing commission rates.
Many real estate agents in South Africa ask their clients if they have an idea of where they want to purchase property. It is important to inform the agent if you do not know where to find good properties or if you are not sure about the type of property you need. You may also inform the agent if you are simply window shopping and not really interested in making a purchase.
Some agents will personally take you to the properties, but may not give you keys especially to furnished properties. Some real estate agents in South African require clients to make appointments to view properties. However, other agents may allow clients to drop by unannounced to check available properties. Most real estate agents in South Africa will be ready to help you find the property you need even during weekends.
A lawyer will help you carry out important searches as far as debts, right of way, and ownership are concerned. Avoid using a vendor’s lawyer because his/her main aim is to protect the interest of the vendor and not you. You must make enquiries to make sure that the vendor has a registered title to the property and does not have any debts against the property.
Your lawyer will also help you confirm that the property has the necessary building licenses, corresponds to local planning restrictions, have planning permission and that all charges have been approved by the local authorities. A good real estate lawyer may advise you not to buy property owned by several members of a family unless you are sure that all owners have given their consent. Research and compare fees charged by different lawyers and obtain quotations in writing before hiring one.
Check to see what is included in the fee and if it is a ‘full and binding’ transaction or just an estimate. A number of lawyers charge hourly or a percentage of the value of a property. A lawyer will help you by checking the preliminary contract before you sign to ensure that is has no errors and includes all important details.
Finding details of property for sale
Nearly all South African real estate agents deal with property for sale. Most real estate agents are members of the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa. This means that you can easily find a listing of different housing services and real estate agents in South Africa by browsing the list of estate agents on the Estate Agents of South Africa website.
Land and Registration
South Africa has one of the most sophisticated and efficient systems of land registration. All registration of rights in land and other immovable property is overseen by the Deeds Registries Act, 1937. All parcels of land are clearly recorded, and ownership of property recorded in one of the regional Deeds Registries. This system gives property owners the security of title.
Foreign Ownership Limitations
Foreigners who want to purchase properties in South Africa need to be cautious when dealing with real estate agents to avoid being defrauded. Work with certified and reputable real estate agents. It is also important to know about property laws in South Africa. All property purchase or sale contracts must be in writing and signed by both the seller and the buyer. They must also include a full description of the property, buying price, and terms of the agreement.
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