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2011 April 8: ESTATE AGENTS AND ATTORNEYS CANNOT GUARANTEE TRANSFER DATES

Sellers and buyers dealing in residential property have to realise that delays in transfer do occur and no estate agency or conveyancer can guarantee a transfer date.  This was said by Anton du Plessis, head of Vineyard Estates, commenting on a recent case in which the Deeds Office held up a transfer by almost one month.

“It is,” said du Plessis, “quite understandable that clients should assume that if the agent and the conveyancer work efficiently and win the cooperation of buyer and seller, transfers should not take longer than eight weeks.  Regrettably this is not always the case.”

Recently, said du Plessis, a minor mistake in the Title Deed (it was, in fact, a duplication of a minor clause) resulted in a call for a correction.  Normally, he said, this would have taken no more than four or five days.  However, in this case the clerk responsible for the work happened to take leave for three weeks at the time and no one was delegated to take over his responsibilities whilst he was away.

“In the end the transfer took just under one month.  The loss of interest over that period on so large a sum was significant and the inconvenience caused to those who had expected to be able to move in or out of certain homes on certain dates was considerable.

“A staff member taking annual leave is in most cases an event that Deeds Office management would be aware of in advance, and good management practice would necessitate forward planning to fill the gap.  Correcting a simple error on a Title Deed is a simple administrative process, and it is beyond belief that some other official could not be made available to attend to this work.”

Delays in transfer, said du Plessis, can be caused by a variety of factors, including time lags in receiving rates clearances, transfer duty receipts, bond registration or cancellation instructions. In addition, unexpected increases in the number of transfers going through the Deeds Office can also slow down the process, as can any number of complications arising from complex conditions contained in many Deeds of Sale.