7 Things to know before signing an offer to purchase for a property

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It is always exciting for prospective buyers to start house hunting and find that perfect property or dream home. However, signing to purchase a property is a big commitment and buyers need to thoroughly understand what they are committing to.

  1. An offer to purchase as a legally binding contract

Once you have put in an offer to purchase and the seller has accepted it, it is a legally binding contract that cannot be changed unilaterally.  You therefore committed to adhere to all clauses in the contract.  Also note that a contract cannot be cancelled just because you found a better property or you changed your mind – you will be held accountable to adhere to all the conditions and even sometimes to continue with a contract that you do not want to proceed with anymore.

  1. Ensure you understand what you are signing

In the excitement of buying a property it sometimes happens that buyers sign an offer to purchase without properly reading the contract and ensuring that they understand all the criteria. It is advisable that you have a lawyer peruse and advise you on your offer PRIOR to you signing and committing to the legal repercussions.

  1. If its not included in the contract it is not legally binding

Clients tend to think that if the owner or agent mentioned a certain aspect (e.g. the seller will clean the garden before the purchaser moves in), even if not contained in the contract itself, it will be included in the deal or all parties will keep themselves committed to the verbal comments.  It is not so.  Most contracts will include a clause to the effect that no variation, amendment or cancellation will be of effect unless contained in the contract. If so, any negotiations outside of the contract will be of no effect unless in writing.

  1. Ensure that all movable fixtures and fittings are included in the contract.

If you viewed the property don’t assume that all the extras will be automatically be included in the sale. Ensure that there is agreement between the parties on what will stay and what will go including DSTV Dishes, Window Plants, pots with plants and other aesthetics e.g. garden décor etc.

  1. Inspect the property

It is always exciting to visit a show property and to visualise yourself living in it but remember that when viewing a property every seller will attempt to make the property as visually tempting as possible.  It is therefore crucial for buyers to thoroughly inspect a property to ensure that what you see is in fact what you buy. The rule of thumb is that if a defect is identifiable in a normal inspection, you will not be able to claim that the Seller fix these after purchase (e.g. if the sliding door does not want to open or close it is a defect that would have been visible during inspection.   It is advisable to ensure a thorough home inspection, even with the assistance of a professional home inspector.

  1. Ensure that you are aware of all costs payable for transfer and bond registration

Most financial institutions will only approve a bond amount that will cover the purchase price of a property. There are however additional costs that will be applicable and that a buyer must consider. Contact your attorney to calculate the legal fees involved and remember to include a buffer amount for the unexpected additional fees that your attorney might not be aware of (e.g. Home Owners Association Certificates, Insurance Certificates etc). Ensure that you have enough cash in hand to pay for these expenses over and above your cash deposit amount.

  1. Ensure that your finances are in order

When you are ready to make an offer to a Seller you will have a limited time period within which to apply for your bond financing. Ensure that you have been pre-qualified for the amount you require to make a reasonable offer.  Also ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork ready to submit your application timeously.

Do you require any assistance with the following?

  • Checking of your Offer to Purchase
  • Assessing and calculating your costs required for purchase
  • Pre-assessment of the bond amount you will qualify

Contact us today on info@smutsco.co.za or 021 8242020 or www.smutsco.co.za

by Karen Zaaiman

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)