Insights - News Blog

Deeds Office Closures - How Does this affect the property market?

Despite common belief, the finish line when buying and/or selling property is not reached when entering into an agreement of sale or even when signing the transfer documents at the conveyancing attorney’s offices. In fact, the finish line is only crossed once the transfer of the property has been processed and registered at the relevant Deeds Office.

The Deeds Office is a branch of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and is responsible for the accurate examination, registration and record-keeping of all property transactions. There are 10 Deeds Offices spread throughout the country, based in:

  • Pretoria (Gauteng),
  • Johannesburg (Gauteng
  • Polokwane (Limpopo)
  • Cape Town (Western Cape)
  • Pietermaritzburg (Kwa-Zulu Natal
  • Bloemfontein (Free State)
  • Kimberley (Northern Cape)
  • Vryburg (North-West)
  • Nelspruit (Mpumalanga)
  • King William’s Town (Eastern Cape)

There is no question that South Africa has an intricate and formidable land registration system, with title security at the forefront. It should come as no surprise that it is regarded as one of the best in the world. However, several recent events have caused longer-than-planned closures in many of the offices countrywide.

The closure of deeds offices has a significant impact on the property market. Without the deeds office, property transactions cannot be completed, and buyers and sellers are left waiting. A deeds office closure directly affects the sellers, buyers, property practitioners, attorneys and bond originators. The delays make it difficult to plan ahead with a property transaction as it creates complications around occupation dates and makes it tough to align the needs of buyers, sellers and tenants.

As long as the office is closed, property transfers cannot be registered, which in turn means that the transfer of ownership cannot take place. Unfortunately these delays do have a ripple effect that is felt throughout the property sales cycle:

  • Sellers do not get access to the proceeds from the sale
  • Purchasers may not be able to take possession of the property – even though their deposit and/or bond is tied up in trust
  • Property Practitioners do not receive their commission (in most cases, this is their sole income)
  • Attorneys do not get paid their fees (which in turn, support the salaries of their staff)
  • Bond Originators do not receive their commission (also usually their sole income)

As a professional operating in the property market, it’s important to plan for events such as deeds office closures and other delays, and manage cash flows accordingly. Most businesses would have a cash retention policy based on the company’s assessment of these types of risks. However, most sole proprietors and agents do not have this luxury.

Phoenix Bonds is committed to monitoring all our approved bonds once they move into the pipeline management space. We have close relationships with attorneys and banks alike, and commit to keeping out property practitioners and clients up-to-date with any expected delays in the property transfer process.

If you are interested in working with one of our experienced Home Loan Consultants, get in touch with us today: [email protected]

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