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What Happens at the Deeds Office?

Feb 25, 2008

The conveyancer will lodge the title deed and other documents that he has prepared in the deeds office for registration. The deeds office is a government registry of ownership in all fixed property and other rights in fixed property. If there is a bond to be registered the conveyancer attending to the bond (who is usually not the conveyancer attending to the transfer) will also lodge the bond documents in the deeds office for registration simultaneously with the transfer documents.

The examiners in the deeds office scrutinize the documents to ensure that they comply with all relevant legislation and regulations. When they are satisfied, they inform the conveyancer that the deeds are ready for registration and thereupon, in the presence of the conveyancer and registrar of deeds, the transfer of the property is registered in the name of the purchaser. The bond (if applicable) is registered simultaneously.

On registration the purchaser becomes the lawful owner of the property. The title deed reflecting his ownership will be released by the deeds office after the registration and will be handed to him by the conveyancer, unless a bond had been registered, in which case the title deed is retained by the bondholder.

How long does the process take?
Having read these columns you will be aware that conveyancing is a complex field requiring extensive knowledge, skill and attention to detail on the part of the conveyancer.

In the usual conveyancing transaction there are a number of parties involved such as:
The seller (and spouse)
The purchaser (and spouse)
The institution which previously gave the bond to the seller (and the conveyancer acting on its behalf)
The Receiver of Revenue
The municipality or local authority
The institution which gives the new bond to the purchaser (and the conveyancer acting on its behalf)

Estate agent
Conveyancer(s)
Registrar of Deeds

More often than not the following additional parties are also involved.

The buyer of the purchaser’s previous property (which the purchaser had to sell to obtain the cash portion of the purchase price)

The conveyancer acting for the purchaser in that transaction

The institutions which gave and are giving the loans in that transaction (and their conveyancers) and so forth.

Very often there are whole chains of transactions linked up in this fashion.

The conveyancer has to complete the arrangements with all these parties. Because human beings and various institutions are involved in each instance, delays are possible at any stage of the transaction. The conveyancer (also being an attorney) knows exactly when and how to use legal methods to compel delaying parties to act more expeditiously.

It is important, therefore, that the purchaser should sign the documents and pay the required amounts as soon as the conveyancer calls on him or her to do so; this helps to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays.

The length of time it takes to get the transaction into the Deeds Office is dependent on the reaction time taken by each and every one of the mentioned parties. The usual time taken by the Deeds Office to inspect all the documents lodged by the different conveyancers for a specific transaction is seven working days.

On average, the time taken to register the transfer of property, where a bond is involved, will be one or two months from the date that the conveyancer is instructed.
Unforeseen difficulties such as the death of one of the parties, attachment of the property by a creditor of the seller and so forth may cause the period to be extended.

For any queries/questions please e-mail : legal@desaiattorneys.co.za
Next column: Questions and Answers on Property

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