Demystifying the conveyancing process in South Africa: A step-by-step guide

13 May 2024

For those venturing into the South African property market, understanding the intricacies of conveyancing is an essential part of ensuring the smooth transfer of property ownership from one party to another. This summary aims to clarify the conveyancing process and provide a comprehensive understanding of the key steps.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing refers to the legal process of transferring property ownership from a seller to a buyer. It involves various administrative and legal procedures aimed at ensuring the transaction is valid, binding and in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. While the process may seem daunting, especially to first-time buyers or sellers, having a clear understanding of each step can help you to navigate through it smoothly.

The role of conveyancers

Property transfers in South Africa are facilitated by conveyancers – specialised lawyers who play a pivotal role in overseeing the entire transfer process, from drafting legal documents to conducting property searches and facilitating the payment of taxes and levies. Their expertise ensures that the transaction adheres to all legal requirements and safeguards the interests of both parties involved.

Key steps in the conveyancing process

Offer to Purchase: The conveyancing process commences with the signing of an Offer to Purchase agreement between the buyer and the seller. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the sale, including the purchase price, deposit amount and any special conditions.

Title deed and property searches: Once the Offer to Purchase is signed, the conveyancer conducts a thorough investigation of the property’s title deed and conducts various searches to uncover any encumbrances or restrictions that may affect the transfer.

Drafting of transfer documents: The conveyancer prepares the necessary legal documents, including the deed of transfer and all other supporting documents required for the transfer of ownership.

Obtaining clearance certificates: Before the transfer can proceed, the conveyancer obtains clearance certificates for various statutory requirements, such as rates and taxes, homeowners’ association and body corporate levies and compliance certificates for electrical, gas and plumbing installations.

Payment of transfer costs: Both the buyer and the seller are responsible for certain transfer costs. The buyer is liable for the majority of costs including, but not limited to, most of the fees such as transfer fees, transfer duty or VAT, as well as other related expenses. The seller is generally liable for the estate agent’s commission.

Execution of transfer documents: Once all documents are in order and the necessary payments have been made, the parties must sign the transfer documents in the presence of a conveyancer or a commissioner of oaths.

Registration of transfer: The final step in the conveyancing process involves lodging the transfer documents at the Deeds Office for the examination process prior to registration. Once registered, the property ownership is officially transferred to the buyer and the transaction is complete.


This article is a brief guide to help you understand the basics of the conveyancing process. We have not discussed bond registrations and cancellations, which are also completed by conveyancers. If you are thinking of selling your property, contact Kelly Barnett at Michelle Chavkin Attorneys Inc at [email protected]. We will help streamline the process, providing you with peace of mind and paving the way for a successful property transaction.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

Kelly Barnett is an admitted attorney, notary and conveyancer. She obtained her BA LLB degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. Kelly is currently an associate at Michelle Chavkin Attorneys...


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