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South African homefinder - your free property listings
Q. What is the first thing I should ask for when making contact with an estate agent?
A. Donít start negotiations with an unregistered estate agent. Ask him to show you his current registration card issued by the Estate Agents' Board of South Africa. This certificate is your assurance that the estate agent is subject to the Estate Agents Boardís Code of Conduct, rules and jurisdiction.

Q. What if Iím still unsure about the credentials of my estate agent?
A. Call the Estate Agency Affairs Board and theyíll check his record for details and advise you if there have been any past misdemeanours.

Q. What happens when it comes to signing any documents?
A. Donít just sign when told to. The estate agent is obliged to explain the agreement to you. If you are unsure on specific aspects get advice from your bank manager, lawyer or anyone else who is knowledgeable on property matters. The Estate Agency Affairs Board is also able to assist you in this regard.

Q. How can I protect myself with all the required sales documentation - who can help me sort through all that jargon?
A. While most estate agencies have their own standard sales documentation, The Estate Agency Affairs Board has also compiled a standard sale agreement that can be used for buying and selling property. The Boardís pre-printed agreement is designed to afford equal protection to both seller and buyer and properly regulates the relationship with the estate agent of choice. You can obtain one from the Board at a minimum charge.

Q. Is there anything I should know about the filling out of pre-printed standard documents?
A. Yes! Donít leave blank spaces. Either fill them in very carefully or cross out everything that does not apply and then initial such changes.

Q. How does an estate agent operate?
A. Usually a seller will approach an estate agent to sell his property. If the seller is happy with the estate agentís marketing plan and commission proposal, the seller will then give the agent instructions (a mandate) to sell. Such arrangements should preferably be recorded in writing. Only then should the estate agent be allowed to put the property on the market. Remember - the amount of commission payable, usually by the seller, is negotiable, and in most cases attracts VAT.

Q. How do I choose an estate agent?
A. Choose an estate agent who appears to have the trust of the community. Such trust is usually achieved through expert and honest dealing. Speak to more than one agent especially if you want to find out the value of your property. Keep your eyes and ears open! Donít accept the first offer you receive unless it meets your requirements. If in doubt seek professional advice.

Q. What is the most important aspect when selling or buying a house?
A. Common sense. Donít be in a rush. Do your research, always ask for advice and before you sign anything make sure you fully understand all the terms of sale and all the relevant details and arrangements.

Q. Whatís the first thing I should do when buying a house?
A. Relax! Everyone is eager to buy a new home. Use your common sense and always ask for advice from experienced people in property matters. Make sure you check with the bank the amount of the bond you can obtain.

Q. What should I check for when inspecting a house I might buy?
A. You must check for defects and get expert advice on the cost of any repairs.

Q. What should I consider when buying a new home?
A. Also consider your future needs. Check if the property is close to work, hospitals, shops, schools, etc. Is the property in a good neighbourhood, with good security and close to main roads? But most important, can you afford it, and what extras must you pay for? Donít forget rates, electricity, water, etc.

Q. When do I have to make a payment for the property I wish to buy?
A. Never make any payments unless you absolutely fully understand all the documentation, and have fully inspected the property. When you pay a deposit make sure you get a proper receipt from the estate agent who must keep your payment in trust until registration of transfer. The balance of the purchase price usually comes from the loan granted by a bank.

Q. What should I do if I would rather lease a property?
A. Since you will have to pay rent, make sure that you can afford the monthly rent and other costs. Never sign a lease unless the lease document has been thoroughly explained to you.

Q. If an estate agent has stolen my deposit or treated me unfairly, what can I do?
A. Contact the Estate Agency Affairs Board immediately for advice and instructions.

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