|Buying Immovable Property Description
South Africa is one of the world's most exciting investment and holiday options for foreign buyers. Over recent years the Cape Town property market has grown by double digit % every year and with a keen eye on the ever fluctuating Rand buyers can secure a real sound investment. Recent changes in the law have created a more structured policy on overseas visitors living in South Africa and these changes are intended to encourage new visitors and second homeowners. Properties can be registered in the name of individuals,companies,close corporations or trusts.
South Africa has one of the best land registration systems with a high degree of security of ownership. All contracts for the sale of land, farm,houses / apartments etc. must be in writing and signed by all parties concerned. Properties are usually sold by registered agents or if new, sometimes direct with the developer. It is possible for a Non Resident to borrow monies in South Africa against the property purchase. It is called a Bond, and the non resident can borrow upto 50% of the purchase price. The other 50% and the transfer costs + levies and attorney fees must be funded via cash brought into the country via a bank transfer. It should be noted that South Africa Bond rates are over 10% and this can make repayments unacceptably high.
PROCESS IN BRIEF
The transfer of ownership can only be done by a specialised attorney called a "conveyancer". This conveyancer is normally nominated by the seller and the buyer uses the same attorney. The first prerequisite is the Deed of Sale and is a written document initially called "Offer to Purchase", this is signed by the purchaser and the seller once ALL details of the purchase are known, in particular price and payment terms agreed. This document becomes the "Sale Agreement".
It is worth noting that the purchaser is usually liable for the following costs. Transfer Duty, a tax levied on the property based on the purchase price. (not applicable if the seller is VAT registered ) Deeds office levies and the cost of obtaining a rates / levy clerance certificate, and of course attorney fees.
TRANSFER DUTY COSTS
R0 to R500,000 Exempt.
5% Between R500,000 and R1,000,000
8% On the balance above R1,000,000
The seller is liable for such costs as any agents selling fees, the cost of a Beetle - Free & Electrical certificates and of course attorney fees.
Voetstoots is included in all deeds of sale and implies that the property is brought "As Is". However the seller is duty bound to advise of latent defects know to them. Also in South Africa it is not commonplace to have a building survey carried out.
PLEASE NOTE - The South African Consumer Protection Act came into law on 1st April 2011. This act is designed to protect ALL consumers and in principle is good for consumers going forward, however there are many grey areas and many issues will inevitably be settles via the courts. The "Voetstoots" or "As Is" is covered in this act and it remains to be seen how the fine detail pans out with regards to buying a property in South Africa. It can only be good for the purchaser and your Attorney will advise as to the current state of play with regards to this section of your/any sale agreement.
For further detailed information on this Consumer Act please go to the 'Shopping' Category , under the 'Staying and Playing' section of this website.
The whole transfer process can take around 8 weeks.
Non Residents are liable for Capital Gains Tax on profit from the disposal of their immovable property. It is payable in the year of disposal and is calculated by adding 25% of the Capital Gain,or profit, to the individuals income, eg-salary or rental income for that year,deducting the annual rebate of R15,000 and then taxing that income at the individuals marginal rate of income tax.The maximum marginal rate is currently 40%,which translates to a maximum flat rate payable of 10% on the Capital Gain.
South African residents are also liable for Capital Gains Tax but do not pay CGT on the first R1.5 million of profit made on the disposal of their primary residence. However, non residents do not qualify for this exemption if their primary residence is not in South Africa.
As a foreigner, your investment in South Africa is secured and protected by the deeds registration system and the Constitution. Once you sell your property, the conveyancer will liase with SARS (South African Revenue Services ) for taxation purposes. Your funds and any profit can be taken out of South Africa, provided you comply with the South African Reserve Bank's regulations. These include proof that the funds entered South Africa from an overseas source, and that the source is legal. Funds brought into South Africa during the negotiation or transfer phases will be held in the Attorneys Trust account. All attorneys / conveyancers are regulated by their law societies, and guaranteed by the Attorneys' Fidelity Fund.
Finally, the selling agent and / or nominated attorney will guide you through the whole current legal process. It is vital that you understand all the aspects of the transaction and your own on going property liabilities, eg - monthly levies, insurance and general running costs.
Two guidance documents entitled "Buying A Property In South Africa" and "Purchasing Immovable Property In South Africa As A Non Resident" are available.These are current as at Spetember 2007 and you should be aware that ammendments to all South African legislation is ongoing. These can be requested an emailed, please CONTACT US for further information.