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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Navigating Deeds Office Delays

The pandemic, restrictions, and intermittent office shutdowns have significantly impacted the operational capacity of numerous essential government departments, including the Deeds Office. We now face a significant backlog in processing property registrations, many of which are related to commercial properties. Unfortunately, this situation seems further exacerbated by high load shedding stages, causing additional delays.

Business owners acquiring commercial properties bear certain obligations in the property registration process. Here lies the secret to facilitating the registration process, comprehending the involved stages and understanding how their involvement can make the process more efficient – notwithstanding delays at the Deeds Office.

Understanding The Transfer Process

The property registration process is an administrative process encompassing operational and legal procedures that all bear strict adherence protocols. This process begins once the seller agrees to an offer to purchase (deed of sale) and the buyer has confirmed the success of their bond application. Once the deed of sale is signed, the process for the buyer’s bond approval by their chosen financial institution will commence. During this, the seller designates conveyancers to oversee the property’s registration and transfer.

The conveyancers’ duties include acquiring the documents necessitated by the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) from both parties, transfer duty receipts and rates clearance certificates. Upon the bond’s approval, the conveyancers will mandate both parties to sign a series of documents detailing the transaction’s legal terms and conditions.

Once completed, the buyer will receive an invoice detailing all associated conveyancing expenses such as transfer costs, fees for the Deeds Office, postage and petty expenditures, and charges for file storage. In many instances, this process also entails the involvement of a bond attorney to file the bond documents. Upon settlement by the buyer of all payments due to the relevant attorneys, the conveyancers will submit the necessary paperwork to the Deeds Office for the transfer to be registered.

The remaining step of the process is overseen by the examiners at the Deeds Office, who will ultimately finalise the property registration. Due to the current delays, it may take applicants up to 6 months to have their property registered and transferred. While delays at the Deeds Office are outside the buyer’s influence, applicants can facilitate the conveyancers’ work by planning and being prepared to minimise delays at this level.

Facilitating a Swift Transfer

Financial Health Assessments

The first step for the incoming property owner is to assess eligibility to raise the finance required for the transaction to proceed.  Eligibility starts with a credit health check to obtain the credit score of the business owner and of the business itself.  One of the factors in the credit score assessment, is the status of the tax affairs of both the business owner and of the business.  Numerous delays in a commercial property transaction can stem from income tax complications because property transfers serve as a mechanism for ensuring tax compliance in both personal and business contexts. Unpaid tax debts or outstanding penalties can impede the transfer process before the application reaches the Deeds Office. Generally, credit scores in the top quartile are more favourable and more likely to receive financing.

Finance Pre-approval

Due to the risk of transaction failure due to low credit scores and subsequent failure to raise financing, buyers are encouraged to secure pre-approval for the mortgage or loan required to finance the property’s purchase. Before discussing financial terms with the buyer, banks and other lenders will meticulously examine factors like affordability, credit history, and the property. As a result, business owners are advised to finalise these negotiations and, when possible, secure an official pre-qualification letter as early as possible.

Having pre-approval at your disposal while scouting potential properties could give you an advantage, improving your credibility and enabling you to negotiate more confidently with the seller. Once the offer to purchase is signed, having pre-approval will fast-track the transfer process.

Effective Planning

The essence of success often lies in the timing! Business owners are advised to refrain from purchasing property during busier periods, such as December, as they are known for high activity levels in Deeds Offices nationwide. SME owners considering the purchase of commercial property should consider possible delays that might affect the timing of critical events, such as business or product launches.

Supporting Property Procurement

Being proactive with income tax compliance validates your financial integrity and significantly boosts your credibility with financial institutions, leading to a more successful financing outcome that supports faster registration. MMS Group can be an invaluable ally in this process. We offer comprehensive income tax services to ensure compliance with all relevant tax laws and regulations.

By ensuring the accuracy and transparency of your income tax reporting, MMS Group helps pave the way towards sustainable business growth through successful property procurement. Trusting your tax compliance to experts like MMS Group can mean the difference between a smooth application process and avoidable complications. Reach out to our team for more information on how we can support your business.