When selling a property it is usually the seller that nominates the attorney to effect the transfer. In some instances a buyer will request that his conveyancing attorney is used, perhaps because his attorney is doing the transfer of his own property that may have sold, or perhaps he will pay lower attorney fees.
It is always up to the seller to decide whether or not he will use the buyers’ attorney, or want to nominate his own. In most cases we would recommend that a seller use his own attorney who will look after his interests.
So then, as a seller, just what do you need to consider when selecting an attorney to handle the transfer of your property?
Please consider this very, very carefully. In theory one would assume it doesn’t really make that much difference. There is a systematic procedure that conveyancers follow and transfer should go through as planned.
In reality, there is a vast difference in the service levels and ability of an attorney to ensure that your transfer takes place on time, and that your interests are looked after.
This is a prickly subject and it won’t go down with all attorneys.
It’s imperative to select an attorney who you are sure will be able to do the following:
1. Provide regular communication and feedback to you as the seller and your agent, thus informing you of any problems or delays
2. Intervene to resolve any issues or problems that arise and need mediation or negotiation
It sounds pretty simple, but it’s not. Would you believe there are conveyancing attorneys that, even today, will just not return messages or respond to you? We’re busy with a transaction at the moment and for over 3 weeks this attorney hasn’t returned messages despite numerous phone calls. And there are important issues that need to be resolved on a transaction.
Just how does such conduct look after the interest of either the seller or the buyer? Some other “old school” attorney informed us that he is aware that it’s the norm for attorneys to update seller, buyer, and agent on a weekly basis these days, but that is not included in his significant fee. Should we need this communication he will be charging the client extra. It’s unbelievable that this would be the attitude of a professional businessman in this modern era!
The fact is that problems arise. There are disputes between buyer and seller. There are delays at the City of Cape Town for rates clearance. The Deeds Office has delays. There could be problems to resolve with the electrical or plumbing clearances – or any one of a number of issues.
You need an attorney that will take steps to resolve problems. Someone who, if there are delays, will use common sense to request rates clearances earlier, lodge earlier, and be pro-active to ensure the transfer takes place on time.
Make no mistake – there are some outstanding conveyancing attorneys out there who are worth every cent of the fee they charge. But there are also some shocking conveyancers who simply should not be in business.
So choose carefully. Your conveyancer plays a huge role in ensuring your property registers on time. And they can save a sale if they have the ability and motivation to resolve problems. Often our sellers have no attorney of preference and we are happy to recommend a number of conveyancers who have proved their ability to deliver great service, communicate with all parties, and resolve issues when they arise.
But choose wisely. It will impact you significantly.