6 Questions every homebuyer should ask before making an offer to purchase property

Ask this… before you sign.
The property market has never been more buoyant, a “buyer’s market” so to speak. Combine that with a record low interest rate and first-time buyers have an excellent opportunity to make a sound investment if they keep their wits about them. Buyer’s remorse, however, is not uncommon amongst first-time buyers as favourable market conditions do not mitigate the potential pitfalls usually because of buyers being unaware of the of the technical aspects that could delay transfer after concluding a sale agreement.
Here are 6 questions every homebuyer should ask when they are ready to make an offer to purchase property:
1. Ask to see the Approved Municipal “as-built” Plans
Any additional structures on the property, other than the main dwelling, should reflect on the building plans, as approved by the Municipal Planning committee. The onus is on the seller to have a copy of these plans available to present to the buyer on request or obtain a copy from the Local Authority.
2. Ask about the history of the property and if any major repairs or maintenance have been in the last 5 years
Normally Quality service providers issue warrantees for any major work done to a property. Buyers can request that the Seller to make these warrantees available for inspection.
3. Confirm that the Municipal Rates on the property are not in arrears
One of the major input documents for the transfer and registration of the property, is a Rates Clearance Certificate from the Municipality. This requires the Conveyancer to obtain rates clearance figures. These figures indicate whether the rates on the property have been paid up to date. It is the Seller’s responsibility to keep the municipal rates paid up to date of registration of transfer.
4. Ask if there are any restrictive conditions in the Title Deed of the property
Restrictive conditions can range from a material encroachment on the use of the property to a standard servitude that allows for municipal maintenance. It is always advisable to ask the Conveyancer to explain the impact of the condition and its limitations on the future use of the property, if any.
5. Ask if the property is sold from a Deceased Estate.
If the property is sold as part of the deceased estate, it can, more often than not, cause delays in the transfer process as consent from the Master of the High court with jurisdiction is required to proceed with registration. A buyer must be aware of these delays as it could impact the future date of occupation and possession of the property.
6. If you wish to buy a sectional title unit, find out as much as you can about the management of the scheme from other owners or the Managing Agent.
Ask to see a copy of the financials of the Body Corporate. Buying into badly managed scheme could not only make your life a misery but it could also end up being a bad
Answers to these 6 questions will eliminate a great deal of the “unknowns” in the property buying process and can be used as a yardstick for first, second and even third time buyers.
The process of buying property can be overwhelming, but you have a partner in the dedicated BLC conveyancers and support staff with decades of experience that you can call on to guide you from start to finish.
By Luzanne le Roux
Associate Attorney : Commercial Conveyancing Department