The property purchaser's checklist

Investing in property is a major step in anyone's life and must, therefore, be approached prudently.

Here is a general checklist to guide any property purchaser.

Advocate

This is the most important aspect of a property transaction. The perils of transacting without a good (competent, honest, diligent) advocate are well documented. It is up to the buyer to exercise due diligence in getting a good lawyer.

Due diligence

This would include an examination of the property by the prospective purchaser to establish the boundaries, beacons and condition of the property. It also includes an official search where due diligence is conducted at the Lands Registry and it establishes several important things such as whether the title is authentic, who the registered owner of the property is, whether a caution or caveat has been registered against the title and whether the property is encumbered (for example, has it been mortgaged?).

Sale agreement

This is a contract between the purchaser and the seller, describing the subject property and setting out the terms and conditions of the transaction. It must be properly executed by both parties in the presence of an advocate, dated and stamped at the documents registry in order for it to be enforceable.

Purchase price

This is usually set out in the sale agreement and should include the amount, mode of payment, when the deposit should be paid (preferably upon execution of the sale agreement) and whom it should be paid to. It should also include the balance of purchase price and when it should be paid (usually upon completion).

Transactional costs

These are the costs relating to the property purchase and are as important to factor in as the purchase price. These include stamp duty, legal fees, search and registration costs. Land rent and rates (where applicable) should also be paid for the transaction to be successful.

Transfer

This is the legal document, which confers legal interest in the property to the purchaser upon registration. It must be properly executed by both parties, bear their colour passport size photographs and witnessed and attested by an advocate.

It may take many forms known legally by different names such as transfer, transfer of land, conveyance, assignment or sub- lease, depending on the type of the subject property.

Default

The sale agreement should set out what constitutes default and what the consequences of such default are/what remedy either party should the other default.

Completion

A time frame for the completion of the transaction is set out in the sale agreement. This is when completion documents are exchanged between the sellers and buyers advocates. Such documents include the properly executed transfer, original title, discharge of charge where applicable, land rent clearance certificate, rates clearance certificate, consent to transfer from the relevant authority and stamp duty valuation form.

Registration process

Once the purchasers advocate has received all the completion documents, he or she is tasked with ensuring that stamp duty is paid, documents are stamped, valuation done and property registered in the purchasers name. If there is a charge/mortgage, it should be registered simultaneously with the transfer.

Title

Once registration is done, the purchaser should expect to receive the title to the property with his name as registered proprietor. If a bank/ financial institution finances the purchase, the original title goes to the financier until the repayment is completed. However, the purchaser should at least receive a copy of the title.

This process may differ slightly, depending on the type of transaction.

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