Selling or buying property – The conveyancing process

Miniature white house being past from one person to another.

Conveyancing is the means of legally transferring ownership of immovable property. It’s a complex and lengthy procedure of obtaining and preparing documents for submission to the Deeds Office to transfer a property from a seller to a buyer.

Many parties are part of this process:

  • Estate agent
  • Seller
  • Buyer
  • Financial institution
  • Transfer attorney: Transfers the property from seller to buyer, appointed by the seller
  • Bond attorney: Prepares the buyer’s bond documents, appointed by the bank that provides the mortgage to the buyer
  • Cancellation attorney: Cancels the seller’s bond, appointed by the bank that holds the seller’s mortgage

Plus, secondary parties that supply compliance certificates and clearance figures, such as tradesmen (electrician, plumber), the municipality or body corporate.

All these people must provide their services in good time for the transfer to take place. It’s important for a seller to instruct an experienced conveyancing attorney, who controls this process, to attend to the property transfer.

Here’s a breakdown of the process.

The sales agreement and other documents.

  • Buyer and seller sign the sales agreement.
  • The seller instructs a conveyancing attorney to deal with the transfer.
  • The buyer usually has an agreed period in which to get a loan. Once the buyer’s bond has been approved by a bank, the bank will instruct an attorney to attend to the bond registration.
  • If the seller has an existing bond over the property, that bank will instruct another attorney to attend to the bond cancellation. If there’s more than one existing bond, each bank will instruct its own attorney.
  • The seller provides electrical, plumbing, beetle, gas, and electric fence certificates (not all of these are required for every property).
  • The transferring attorney will obtain the title deed and the cancellation figures for the existing bond/s, rates clearance figures, levy figures, and a guarantee from the buyer’s bank for the purchase price (or the balance if the buyer paid a deposit).
  • Any suspensive conditions, for example, the prior sale of the buyer’s existing property, must be fulfilled before the transaction can continue.
  • When all conditions have been met, the buyer and seller each sign the transfer documents. The buyer also signs bond documents.


  • The buyer pays the transfer costs.
  • The seller pays rates and levies, including any advance payments.
  • The transfer attorney obtains transfer duty receipts from SARS, rates clearance certificates, and a levy certificate (if any) and makes all payments.


Once all documents have been signed, all certificates are in place, and costs have been paid, the documents are prepared for lodgement at the Deeds Office. All attorneys must lodge their documents on the same day.

The Deeds Office has 10 working days to examine the document. If all goes well, the attorneys will be advised that the matter is “up for registration”. If anything is not in order, the attorneys will have to amend the documents and relodge, and the Deeds Office will have another 10 working days to examine the documents.


Once the Deeds Office has completed its examination and everything is in order, the attorneys have five days to appear at the Deeds Office to register the deeds. Once the Registrar of Deeds has signed the documents, ownership of the property passes from the seller to the buyer.

  • The buyer’s new bond has been registered and the seller’s existing bond has been cancelled.
  • All guarantees have been paid, the estate agent has been paid their commission, and the seller has received the net proceeds.

The buyer can now move into his new home unless an occupation date other than “on transfer” has been agreed upon in the sales agreement.

This is not the end of the story

About three months later, the Deeds Office sends the original title deed and bond documents to the attorneys. They will forward the title deed to the bank that provided the mortgage, or to the owner if there is no bond. Copies of these documents are usually sent to both buyer and seller by their attorneys.

If you’re selling your property and would like further information, contact us. We understand the legislation governing immovable property and the complexities of the conveyancing process. You can rest assured that your property transactions are in good hands with us.