The role of a Transfer Attorney in South Africa

Many sellers and buyers, particularly those embarking on their first property purchase, may not be entirely clear on what a transfer attorney is or what their role is in the property transfer process. Since a transfer attorney or conveyancer plays such a significant part in the process, we’ve outlined some of the key points that buyers and sellers should be aware of.

Buying Property On Auction | Property Blog Articles

What is a transfer attorney? What is a conveyancer?

A transfer attorney is a legal practitioner who specialises in attending to the transfer of ownership of immovable property. This includes the transfer of private / residential property such as a house or sectional title unit or commercial property such as a shopping centre. It also includes situations where the buyer / seller is a natural person or an entity such as a company or trust.

A transfer attorney must also be a qualified conveyancer in order to attend to the transfer process which requires a specialised exam in the field of conveyancing.

As a way of ensuring the full property transfer process is managed effectively, it is a legal requirement for all deeds and documents requiring registration at the Deeds Office be drawn up and submitted by a qualified attorney, notary or conveyancer. This is regulated through the Deeds Registries Act 47 of 1937.

Who appoints a transfer attorney?

The common law dictates that the seller appoints the conveyancer. If the seller does not know of a conveyancer who they would like to work with, the relevant estate agent involved in the sale would typically be able to advise who the reputable conveyancers in the area are.

While the buyer doesn’t usually get a say in which transfer attorney is appointed to attend to the property transfer, the parties to the sale may agree otherwise.

The role of a transfer attorney

The transfer attorney or conveyancer plays a fundamental role in the full property transfer, overseeing all aspects of the process. The roles and responsibilities that lie with the conveyancer include:

  • Receiving the instruction to attend to the process of transferring the property from the seller to the purchaser
  • Dealing with the administrative aspects involved in the transaction, e.g. opening files, performing deeds searches
  • Drafting transfer documents and all documents that need to be signed by both seller and buyer
  • Paying the costs involved in the transfer process on behalf of the parties to the contract, e.g.transfer duty, rates / levies and collecting the full purchase price
  • Communicating with all role players, namely estate agent, purchaser and seller, mortgage originator, relevant banks, bond attorneys, local authority or body corporate, Deeds Office and SARS
  • Monitoring and reporting on the transfer process
  • Lodgement and registration of the title deeds
  • Reconciliation of all accounts

Working with an experienced and reputable transfer attorney is important considering the significant role they play and their impact on ensuring the process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

For guidance on finding reputable and specialised conveyancing firms in your area, enquire with the estate agent managing the property. Alternatively, you can contact the law society of South Africa who can provide a list of attorneys for a specific area.

Should you have any conveyancing related queries, do not hesitate to contact the Snymans Inc team.

Follow Snymans on Facebook for more legal information, tips and news about property.

Recommended for you

Transfer and Bond Calculators
Legislative Guidelines

The Financial Intelligence Centre Act of 2001 and Cash Threshold Reporting[post_view before=""]

When does the reporting obligation arise for an accountable or reporting institution?

Read More
Minors and immovable property
Legislative Guidelines

The advantages of a life right[post_view before=""]

The Housing Development Schemes for Retired Persons Act 65 of 1988 introduced life rights as a formal form of ownership for retired people in South Africa. This legislation was implemented not only in response to the growth in the retirement village sector but also to provide legal protection to the elderly.

Read More
My name has changed - what happens to my property’s title deed?
Legislative Guidelines

Muslim marriages: A welcome Constitutional Court decision[post_view before=""]

In a long-awaited and groundbreaking decision in the area of family law, the Constitutional Court of South Africa (CC) confirmed the order of constitutional invalidity of the below mentioned Acts, granted by the Supreme Court of Appeal. This decision was confirmed on 28 June 2022.

Read More
Minors and immovable property
Legislative Guidelines

Selling a property without approved building plans[post_view before=""]

It’s often the case that a seller would like to sell – and a purchaser would like to buy – a property without approved building plans or an occupation certificate. But what does the law say?  In terms of the…

Read More
My name has changed - what happens to my property’s title deed?
Legislative Guidelines

The Divorce Act and marriage out of community of property without accrual[post_view before=""]

In this article, we explore the issue of the constitutional validity of section 7(3)(1) of the Divorce Act in respect of marriages entered into after 1 November 1984 and excluding the accrual system.

Read More

Need more Snymans content?

Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

The role of a Transfer Attorney in South Africa

Many sellers and buyers, particularly those embarking on their first property purchase, may not be entirely clear on what a transfer attorney is or what their role is in the property transfer process. Since a transfer attorney or conveyancer plays such a significant part in the process, we’ve outlined some of the key points that buyers and sellers should be aware of.

Buying Property On Auction | Property Blog Articles

What is a transfer attorney? What is a conveyancer?

A transfer attorney is a legal practitioner who specialises in attending to the transfer of ownership of immovable property. This includes the transfer of private / residential property such as a house or sectional title unit or commercial property such as a shopping centre. It also includes situations where the buyer / seller is a natural person or an entity such as a company or trust.

A transfer attorney must also be a qualified conveyancer in order to attend to the transfer process which requires a specialised exam in the field of conveyancing.

As a way of ensuring the full property transfer process is managed effectively, it is a legal requirement for all deeds and documents requiring registration at the Deeds Office be drawn up and submitted by a qualified attorney, notary or conveyancer. This is regulated through the Deeds Registries Act 47 of 1937.

Who appoints a transfer attorney?

The common law dictates that the seller appoints the conveyancer. If the seller does not know of a conveyancer who they would like to work with, the relevant estate agent involved in the sale would typically be able to advise who the reputable conveyancers in the area are.

While the buyer doesn’t usually get a say in which transfer attorney is appointed to attend to the property transfer, the parties to the sale may agree otherwise.

The role of a transfer attorney

The transfer attorney or conveyancer plays a fundamental role in the full property transfer, overseeing all aspects of the process. The roles and responsibilities that lie with the conveyancer include:

  • Receiving the instruction to attend to the process of transferring the property from the seller to the purchaser
  • Dealing with the administrative aspects involved in the transaction, e.g. opening files, performing deeds searches
  • Drafting transfer documents and all documents that need to be signed by both seller and buyer
  • Paying the costs involved in the transfer process on behalf of the parties to the contract, e.g.transfer duty, rates / levies and collecting the full purchase price
  • Communicating with all role players, namely estate agent, purchaser and seller, mortgage originator, relevant banks, bond attorneys, local authority or body corporate, Deeds Office and SARS
  • Monitoring and reporting on the transfer process
  • Lodgement and registration of the title deeds
  • Reconciliation of all accounts

Working with an experienced and reputable transfer attorney is important considering the significant role they play and their impact on ensuring the process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

For guidance on finding reputable and specialised conveyancing firms in your area, enquire with the estate agent managing the property. Alternatively, you can contact the law society of South Africa who can provide a list of attorneys for a specific area.

Should you have any conveyancing related queries, do not hesitate to contact the Snymans Inc team.

Follow Snymans on Facebook for more legal information, tips and news about property.