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It’s easy to mistake the selling price achieved for your property, with what you’re going to put into your pocket. Although your asking price cannot be a reflection of what you need, rather than what it’s worth in the current marketplace, it’s also worth doing the math so there are no surprises along the way.

Maria Davey, Meumann White Attorneys, unpacks the seller’s usual costs of selling, and the first place to start. “The seller pays to cancel any existing mortgage bond/s he or she may have. That bond needs to be cancelled even if there are no monies due to the bank that initially granted the seller a loan. Some people erroneously believe that a ‘nil’ balance means there is nothing to cancel.”

Certificates required

Depending on where the property is in South Africa, there are various certificates which need to be obtained. You need to ask your conveyancer for what is required.

“All will need electrical compliance (including electric fence) certificates and gas reticulation certificates; entomologist (beetle) is only required in KZN and the Western Cape; plumbing certificates are required in the Western Cape, but not KZN yet,” says Davey.

Importantly, if there’s work required to enable these certificates to be issued, then the seller will be liable for these – so, if the entomologist finds a borer infestation (which in certain areas in KZN for example, is very likely), the seller is responsible for tenting and fumigating their home.

Agent’s fees

The seller is liable for the estate agent’s commission, which is usually calculated as a percentage of the selling price. The percentage payable varies between agencies and is sometimes negotiable. It’s usually payable on transfer of the property. “Sometimes, there’s a fee payable to a homeowners’ association by the seller.”

And if it’s sectional title?

Davey says, “With sectional title, it’s usually agreed that all special levies passed before signature are for the seller’s account, and after signature, the purchaser’s account. Sellers of sectional title units who sell where a special levy has been imposed that’s being paid over a period of time in instalments, need to be aware that if they agree to be liable for levies imposed before signature, the full balance outstanding to the body corporate will need to be settled on transfer. If they expect the purchaser to take over the payments, they must specifically set this out in the agreement.”

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