Who protects the property buyer?

Cape Town - A Fin24 user believes there is not enough protection for the innocent party in a property transaction.

Responding to another user letter about her estate agent horror, user Tracy said although she totally agrees with the comments that the estate agents earn far too much commission, you have to distinguish between good and bad agents.

Adding her voice to our Property Issue, Tracy wrote:
I totally agree with the comments that the estate agents earn far too much commission but then is that fair on agents who do go above and beyond for their clients? I have had brilliant service as well as very poor service from estate agents.

I also believe there is not enough protection for the innocent party and in my case it was me, the buyer.

READ: My estate agent horror

I bought a house a year ago and from the day I put my offer in, I was messed around by all concerned - the sellers, the estate agent and the transferring attorney.  

The sellers kept delaying the necessary paperwork which eventually lead to the transferring attorney sending them a strongly worded letter explaining breach of contract.  

Long story short, our transfer which was supposed to go through on date of occupation (1.10.2013) only went through on 21.12.2013.  (Offer to purchase was put in on 28.06.13).

The day before occupation I was informed (by the bond attorneys) that this house was actually a legal issue and that Absa was about to attach it, needless to say this caused much worry and frustration as we weren't sure what to do.

After moving in we had received notice of auction and sheriff letter after sheriff letter. The rates weren't cleared as the previous owners had an outstanding amount of over R80 000. When I asked the transferring attorney if they could cut our services, she confirmed they could - so they were all happy for me to move my family into a house that could possibly have its services cut and not consider that an issue for me!

READ: Property owners not liable for old rates, taxes

As we had downsized, my intention was to begin renovations the minute transfer went through, and keep some of my house contents in storage for a month - this obviously could not happen and because of the delay we landed up having to store most of our household contents for an extended amount of time. And as with it being Christmas time we couldn't even submit our plans.

When I queried the payment of storage land from the attorney she told me I would have to seek alternative legal advice should I want to claim the money from her clients. Not only was it a monetary issue but a personal issue as well as we were forced to cancel all our Christmas plans, one of which was my family from Johannesburg coming to stay with us.

The emotional stress one goes through when things like this is excessive as from one day to the next you actually have no idea where you stand and what would happen should Absa insist on auctioning the property!

As far as I am concerned the transferring attorney as well as the estate agent should have been aware of the legal issues and they should have made me aware of it. Had I been made aware of it we would have stayed where we were until things had been sorted.

Between the attorney and estate agent, none of them took our position, frustrations and concerns seriously and this was only the beginning!

READ: Off plan buy and occupational rent

They had left the house in such a state, it took three good cleans before it somewhat resembled decency - tiles that I thought were beige were actually white! Then there were six months worth of grass that hadn't been cut along with six months worth of dog poop and hair.

The pool was so dark green that you couldn't see the bottom. When the pool company was cleaning it they pulled out all sorts of wonderful things like a pillow, bricks and wood and of course a horrible surprise when we finally saw the condition of the bottom of the pool! One specific term in the OTP was a working pool pump - of course this didn't work which meant going back to the unhelpful transferring attorney.

The oven didn't work and had to be replaced as well - at the expense of the estate agent.

One year down and we have only just finished our first phase of renovations (getting plans passed took three months due to a systems  change).

We have owned three houses prior to this and have never dealt with such incompetency and unwillingness to help - I of course discovered afterwards that it was due to them all knowing each other and defending and protecting one another! So I ask the question - who is out there to protect  the innocent party?

- Fin24

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