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Buying this holiday? Here’s how to avoid the deeds office ‘slowdown’

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Estate agents in Cape Town are looking forward to a busy season despite the looming school holidays and festive season, and many are reporting that there has been no slowing of enquiries for accessibly priced homes, especially in sought-after areas like the Southern Suburbs.

This is according to Eileen O’Sullivan and Peter Stingl, area specialists for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Constantia, Constantia Hills and Constantia Rural, who say that buyers are still actively looking and the number of requests for valuations from sellers their office receives hasn’t declined despite the time of year.

“We are also anticipating considerable interest from upcountry buyers who use their vacation time in Cape Town to look at property; especially if they are considering moving to the Western Cape,” they say.

However, they caution that there are a number of factors investors need to take into account when buying at the end of the year to avoid any delays and ensure a seamless transaction.

“The deeds office runs on skeleton staff from around 10 December until after the New Year – and it will also need to catch up with the backlog once it re-opens,” they say. “Therefore, transfers for December sales can only be expected to go through towards the end of March the following year.

“And with the council offices closed during the festive season there is also a delay in getting essential documents, such as transfer duty receipts, rates clearance and building plans. This also delays the transfer process.”

In case of inconveniences caused by the slightly extended transfer period sellers and buyers can mutually agree to an earlier occupation before the transfer is concluded. This would allow the buyers to move into their new homes in time, provided all guarantees are in place and both parties agree on an occupational rent.

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Buyers should also ensure they have their ducks in a row with all the relevant documentation at hand for a potential bond application and they should apply to more than one financial institution.

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says that if buyers are contemplating purchasing a home late in the year, it’s a good idea to use an experienced bond originator to assist with a comprehensive bond pre-qualification and have access to all financial institutions in the market.

“Due to their experience and in-depth knowledge of the banks’ requirements, bond originators know precisely what applicants need in order to successfully obtain a home loan. They will also help buyers to complete the necessary documentation and will negotiate the best interest rate on their behalf.

“This also speeds up the administrative and application process as by using an originator, only one set of forms has to be to be completed and, as originators work electronically, banks are usually quick to process and respond to their applications.

“Additionally, this will not only accurately assess their buying power; it means that once a buyer does find the right home, a lot of the financial paperwork is already underway.”

Buying property is always exciting, and can be challenging and stressful. By preparing smartly, investors and buyers can avoid the extra stress that could be caused by the slower processing over the festive period.

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