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Expat Exchange - Buying a Home in South Africa
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Buying a Home in South Africa

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: The one tip that you hear expats living in South Africa repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to South Africa. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that South Africa is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in South Africa.

Real Estate South Africa - Buying a Home in South Africa

South Africa is a beautiful country with a diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and a growing economy. It's no wonder that many expats are drawn to the idea of buying a home here. However, purchasing property in a foreign country can be a complex process, with different laws and regulations to navigate. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the key aspects you need to consider when buying a home in South Africa.

How do I find houses for sale in South Africa?

There are several ways to find houses for sale in South Africa. Online property portals such as Property24, Private Property, and Gumtree are popular platforms where you can browse listings. Local newspapers also have property sections, and real estate agencies can provide listings and assistance. It's advisable to use a reputable real estate agent who is familiar with the local market and can guide you through the process.

Are there restrictions on foreigners owning property in South Africa?

Foreigners can own property in South Africa without any major restrictions. However, the government has the right to expropriate property for public purposes or in the public interest, and this can include land reform. Foreigners can legally get around this by forming a partnership with a South African citizen or by setting up a business entity in South Africa and buying the property through that entity.

Does South Africa have an MLS type system?

South Africa does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. Instead, each real estate agency has its own listings. However, online property portals aggregate these listings, making it easier for buyers to search for properties across different agencies.

Do brokers have licenses and how do I know if they are licensed?

Yes, real estate brokers in South Africa must be licensed by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB). They should have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate, which you can ask to see. You can also verify their license by checking the EAAB's website.

What documents are required when buying a home?

When buying a home in South Africa, you will need your passport, proof of residence, a tax clearance certificate, and proof of income. If you're taking out a mortgage, the bank will also require a credit check. The seller must provide a title deed and tax clearance certificate. Once an offer is accepted, a deed of sale is drawn up and signed by both parties.

Do I need a lawyer when buying a home in South Africa?

Yes, you will need a conveyancing attorney to handle the legal aspects of the property transfer. They will ensure that the title deed is correctly transferred from the seller to the buyer and that all necessary documents are in order. The cost of a conveyancing attorney can vary, but it's typically around 1% of the purchase price.

Do people typically buy a property with all cash or take out a mortgage?

Both options are common in South Africa. Some buyers prefer to pay cash, especially for lower-priced properties. However, most people take out a mortgage. Foreigners can get a mortgage from a South African bank, but they may only be able to borrow up to 50% of the property's value.

Are there inspections that take place, and if so what is that process like?

Yes, home inspections are common in South Africa. A professional home inspector will examine the property for any defects or issues. The buyer usually pays for the inspection, and it's a good way to avoid unexpected costs later on. The process can take a few hours to a few days, depending on the size and condition of the property.

What are some of the pitfalls to avoid when buying property in South Africa?

Some common pitfalls include not thoroughly inspecting the property, not understanding the full costs involved (including transfer duties and attorney fees), and not verifying the seller's right to sell the property. It's also important to ensure that the property is not subject to any land claims. Working with a reputable real estate agent and conveyancing attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

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