How to find and deal with the owner of real estate

It may seem obvious that the seller you are dealing with is the true owner of the property. But there are many cases where this turned out not to be the case.

It often happens that elderly parents who have left the family home leave the sale of the property to one of their adult children or to other relatives. Additionally, owners who have moved overseas or to another city can ask friends to handle the sale on their behalf.

There have even been instances of apparent ‘owners’ selling vacant stalls to unsuspecting buyers and then vanishing without a trace after pocketing thousands of rand in bail.


If the person signing the acceptance of your offer to purchase is not the true owner, this may cause unforeseen delays in the transfer of ownership. It could even lead to the transaction being canceled if the current owner changes his mind about selling – or decides to make a counter-offer.

It would be very expensive – not to say disappointing.

It could also mean that you could miss out on buying another property at a good price while you wait for the legal tangles to be worked out and your deposit refunded. If you’ve already sold your existing home, you’ll likely have the added expense of renting a home while you start looking for a home from the start.

Check in advance

The registered owner of a property is the only person legally authorized to sign the documents necessary to transfer a property to a new owner.

To avoid potentially costly problems, it is wise to only deal with suitably qualified and experienced real estate agents. Before taking out a sales mandate and drafting a sales agreement, the agent must verify the real owners of a property.

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