Service guides parties through new sale protocols
The Consumer Protection Act, which came into effect this month, could mean property sellers and estate agents are exposed to great risk should they attempt to market and sell a property without letting a buyer scrutinise all relevant documents before signing a sale agreement.
But help is at hand with the launch of a new service, aimed at protecting property buyers, sellers and estate agents equally.
Property Transaction Kit (PTK), the brainchild of conveyancing attorney Meyer de Waal, has been prepared in consultation with industry associations and service providers, and offers a structured process through which to gather required compliance material, in order to ensure a smooth transfer.
The service is available to buyers, sellers, estate agents and attorneys, and enables them to compile or have secure online access to all the documents and certificates of compliance related to the sale of a property.
“Once a seller registers for the service, the PTK team will access a database of accredited service providers to source all the relevant documentation, and issue certificates of compliance pertaining to the property. The documents are then loaded onto a virtual property vault on the PTK portal. There the seller, the estate agent, the buyer, the attorney or the bank can securely access the information,” Mr. de Waal says.
“The seller can, after viewing the various reports, either decide to improve the property’s condition or simply share the documentation with the potential buyer, so as to disclose the true condition of the property. Potential buyers can also request access to this comprehensive report to help them decide whether or not to put in an offer,” he says.
Mr. de Waal says for years the lack of strong consumer protection laws has left ill-informed property buyers at the mercy of sellers and estate agents, who often sold properties voetstoots. The voetstoots clause used to protect the seller from defects that the buyer could identify during a viewing of the property, but not against defects that the seller did not know about, and thus could not disclose to the buyer.
Without knowing the true condition of the property, many buyers had to fork out a substantial amount to repair their homes, resulting in serious implications for their budgets and their ability to meet other financial obligations after taking ownership.
Most buyers do not know to request relevant information about a property in which they are interested, and seldom ask for even basic documentation, such as a copy of the title deed, current and approved building plans, or zoning certificates.
Mr. de Waal says the new act places greater responsibility on sellers and estate agents to facilitate a transparent sales process.
The service includes the efforts of convenyancing attorneys, theInstituteofPlumbersof SA, the Electrical Contractors Association, and other service providers in the property sector.
(Note that the above article appeared in the ‘Business Day; 25 May 2011, p.10)