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Buying a property? Be aware of the costs

We've noticed over the years that purchasers are often not aware of the many costs involved in a property purchase, including the conveyancing costs. There are various costs that you need to consider and budget for in the conveyancing process. Whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced property investor, it's important to understand these expenses to avoid any surprises along the way.

Conveyancing Fees

When it comes to property transfers, you'll need the services of attorneys or conveyancers to handle the legal aspects. They help with the preparation of transfer documents, conducting title searches, and registration of the property transfer at the Deeds Office. Conveyancers charge conveyancing fees, which are usually based on a sliding scale tied to the property's value/purchase price. If you are also getting a mortgage bond over the property, bear in mind that the bank's attorneys charge mortgage bond registration costs as well in addition to the normal conveyancing costs. In South Africa, the purchaser usually pays the costs of transfer, even though the conveyancer is normally nominated by the Seller. If your property is part of a sectional title scheme and/or a homeowners association, the purchaser is usually also expected to pay a levy clearance fee.

Transfer Duty/ Value Added Tax

As a purchaser, you'll be responsible for paying transfer duty, which is a tax imposed by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), alternatively in certain circumstances, VAT on the purchase price. The amount you need to pay depends on the property's value/sale price. Speak to your conveyancer about which one is applicable.

Deeds Office Fees

To register the property transfer and obtain the necessary title deeds, you'll need to pay Deeds Office fees, which are usually charged as a disbursement on your conveyancing statement of account. These fees cover the administrative costs associated with the registration process and are determined based on the property's value. It's important to include these fees in your budget to avoid any last-minute surprises.

Bond Registration Costs

If you are financing your property through a mortgage bond, you will incur additional costs related to bond registration. These costs include attorney fees for registering the bond, obtaining the required certificates and conducting necessary searches. It's essential to factor in these expenses when planning your budget.

Municipal Rates and Taxes

Beyond the registration date, you should consider ongoing expenses like municipal rates and taxes. These costs usually cover services such as water, sewerage, electricity, and refuse removal. The amount you will pay on a monthly basis depends on the property's location and value. It's crucial to budget for these recurring expenses to ensure they fit within your monthly budget. If you are part of a sectional title scheme, you should also factor in monthly levy contributions, the possibility of special levy contributions. If your property forms part of a homeowners association, you should also factor in the monthly homeowners association levy contributions.

Moving Costs

Moving to a new property involves its own set of expenses. You will need to account for costs like hiring a moving company, purchasing packing materials, and potentially temporary storage if required. These costs can vary depending on the distance of the move, the volume of belongings, and any additional services you opt for. Planning ahead and obtaining quotes from moving companies will help you budget accordingly.

Unexpected Repair Work and Other Costs

No matter how diligent your property inspection, unexpected repair work may arise after purchasing a property. For example, in one case, a client lost all their house keys shortly after moving, and it cost thousands to replace. It may be wise to allocate a portion of your budget for these unforeseen expenses. Having some financial resources in place will give you peace of mind and allow you to address any necessary repairs promptly. In terms of monthly insurance costs, some properties can carry a higher monthly premium than others (for example, thatch homes), and therefore it is prudent to obtain quotations first before you commit to purchasing the property, so you are aware of the monthly costs.

Concluding remarks

Understanding and budgeting for the costs involved in the conveyancing process is crucial to avoid financial issues in the property purchase process. By being aware of these expenses you can plan your finances effectively. Remember, it's always best to seek legal assistance from professionals prior to signing the agreement. Spence Attorneys can assist with conveyancing transactions across South Africa and draft the deed of sale. Contact us at

This article is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Always seek advice from a legal professional. Spence Attorneys will not be liable for any person acting on information or failing to act based on any content on our website.

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