Purchasing a property is a huge step and an important investment. Most people will only go through the process a few times in the span of their lives. We have come across some shady situations in the property sales business which we have had to defend our clients against.
What we mean by shady is shady estate agents and attorneys and conveyancers that they work with.
An example comes to mind of a client who was sold a house by a man he was introduced to through an estate agency. Our client apparently signed an offer to purchase which stated that payment will be made upon “signature”.
This is frightening wording and we advise you to please check any agreements you are signing for snares and traps which are out of the ordinary. The usual clause is that the payment is made “upon transfer” of the property, that is once the deed of transfer has been signed by the Registrar of Deeds and an authorised conveyancer at the Deeds Office.
The above term was contrived and in order to fully keep our client unawares the seller requested payment be made to a conveyancer which he appointed.
Two years later the property had not been transferred to our client and we discovered the reasons were extremely sinister.
The seller firstly did not own the house, secondly the Conveyancer immediately paid him the funds that were placed in trust on the strength of the above clause for payment upon signature. Please remember that means our client paid a person with no claim to the property the full purchase price without the possibility of transfer taking place.
The extra step of payment to a conveyancer was smoke and mirrors as the seller knew our client never in their wildest dream intended payment to be made upon signature, if they did they could have paid the seller directly, not paid into an attorneys trust account. The situation was a carefully contrived fraud.
We took action and tightened the screw on all the parties that were involved and recouped our client’s funds. The story ended happily ever after, but many don’t.
Please take precautions when buying a new property such as checking the estate agent is registered as such, and that the seller is the owner of the property. Make sure you understand the contracts and ultimately make sure you are not going to become a statistic who loses a huge amount of money because of an unscrupulous fraud.
Contact us if you are contemplating purchasing a new home and allow us to assist you in protecting your interests before signing anything.
In addition we welcome the opportunity to do any property transfer that you may need done as a seller or a purchaser and will welcome the appointment as your transfer attorneys to attend to the conveyancing.