Buying a house is probably the biggest and most important investment you will ever make.

When you do find a house you wish to buy and before you sign any deed of sale (also sometimes referred to as an ‘Offer to Purchase’), follow these simple guidelines:

  • Examine the house. Enquire about the roof, gutters, electrical wiring, foundation etc. Should you have any doubts at all, consult an expert to examine the house. Should there be any defects, provide in the deed of sale for their correction by the seller at their cost
  • Before you sign a deed of sale, give the document to your attorney to examine. Ask about anything that is not clear.
  • Enquire about any additional costs, such as rates and transfer costs – your attorney will have the answers. All provisions and promises must form part of the written contract. Verbal agreements are not enforceable. A document signed by you and then accepted by the buyer could become a binding agreement
  • Ensure that your finances are sound. Should you need a bond, also make provision for the costs or valuation of the property and of registration – your attorney can tell you about this
  • If you are not certain whether you will be able to obtain a loan to provide for the purchase price and / or other costs, make the sale subject to the obtaining of a loan
  • Ensure that the deed of sale provides for the issue of a beetle-free certificate at the expense of the seller in the Cape provinces and KwaZulu-Natal, and for a certificate of compliance in respect of the electrical installation in all provinces
  • Does the seller require a deposit on the selling price? Should this be the case, arrange for payment in trust to any attorney pending transfer and for safekeeping in a special savings account until the house is in your name. With the consent of both parties the attorney may invest these monies subject to the condition that the interest earned will be for your own account
  • Take note of the date of occupation in the deed of sale. Should you move in before the house is in your name, you would be expected to pay rent. Make sure who is responsible for the payment of taxes, levies and insurance premiums during this period. Should the sale fall through after you have moved in, you would naturally have to move out again with the attendant expense and inconvenience
  • If the seller  wants to remove any items such as plants, cupboards etc, this needs to be explicitly set out in the Any loose items (such as curtains, swimming pool equipment etc) must also be specified.