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Property buyers and sellers all frozen in midair

Bate Chubb & Dickson director Angus Warren believes the deeds office will get back to registering properties within seven days once the lockdown is lifted.
Bate Chubb & Dickson director Angus Warren believes the deeds office will get back to registering properties within seven days once the lockdown is lifted.
Image: SUPPLIED

The knock-on impact of Covid-19, which has forced the closure of deeds offices around the country, has left thousands of real estate buyers and sellers stranded between their old homes and new ones as transfers are paralysed.

“While any effort to counter Covid-19 must be applauded for the humanitarian effort alone, plus all the other farsighted benefits, the lockdown is wreaking havoc in the real estate sector,” said principal franchise holder of Pam Golding Properties East London, Sean Coetzee.

“In several cases people arranged to vacate or move into homes or offices, and now cannot do so.

“Others were awaiting funds to pay for a purchase and the transfer has not come through.”

Coetzee said there were many examples of how one delayed transfer could create problems all the way down the purchasing chain.

Eastern Cape legal firm Bate Chubb & Dickson director Angus Warren said closing the deeds office had stopped all transfers, leaving property deals frozen.

“It’s a huge inconvenience for buyers and sellers, as well as agents and the legal profession, but there is nothing that can be done about it.

We must accept that there will be no conveyancing or property registrations until the lockdown is lifted

“We must accept that there will be no conveyancing or property registrations until the lockdown is lifted.”

The courts are not handling any civil matters.

“I predict that the deeds office will pick up quickly and get back to registering properties within seven days of the lockdown lifting.

“Where we may have a delay is with the phased opening of other government institutions, such as SARS and municipalities, with clearances taking time,” property auctioneering company AuctionOne owner Justin Rothbart said.

“The tragic sides of the virus are massive but I see light at the end of the tunnel as far as real estate goes.

“Interest rates are at their lowest since 1973, the banks will be falling over themselves to grant bonds and as job patterns change people are likely to be relocating and buying and selling homes.” 

BetterBond CEO Carl Coetzee said though it was too soon to make accurate predictions on the long-term implications of the pandemic on the market, disruption was not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, disruption is often exactly what an industry needs to bring about new opportunities

“In fact, disruption is often exactly what an industry needs to bring about new opportunities.”

He said digital solutions in the property sector would become more pervasive in the coming months, as the pandemic takes hold.

“[We must] look for innovative ways to strengthen and grow the industry. Technology will drive efficiency.”

Coetzee said data was increasingly the most important and valuable asset of a modern business.

The ability to capture, interpret and analyse relevant information makes it easier to spot trends and make strategic decisions.

“Data effectively takes the guesswork out of decision-making, which in the property sector can help decision-makers predict market fluctuations and plan accordingly, as well as take advantage of opportunities.

“With the current social and economic uncertainty the property industry has a unique opportunity to streamline processes, to embrace digital technologies more widely, to rethink age-old ways of thinking and doing.

“When the world emerges from the crisis, the companies that stand out will be those who have leveraged technologies.”


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