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1 Oct 2012

BUYING PROPERTY FROM A DECEASED ESTATE

When I heard that the house I am buying belonged to the deceased estate (mother of the seller), I panicked a bit. It became a bad reminder of the deceased estate mess I found myself in in the past. I was buying a property belonging to someone who lost a husband then. It didn’t go well and at the end the deal fell through. It was so frustrating having to learn the whole procedure from the winding up of an estate to necessary documentation, when all I wanted was to invest in a rental unit and start getting returns. I received emails after emails on the wait by lawyers for letters of Executorship from the Master’s Offices and similar legal jargon. After a month, the estate had not been winded (or is it wound) up as yet which translates to delays in the whole transfer process. And when the lady at the conveyancer’s offices mentioned that “it may take several months to get the transfer done” I knew it’s time to call it quits.

I didn’t have several months of keeping my savings for an uncertain deal. And that was the end. That is happening again. The only difference is that, I now have the time or several months for the current deal. As I mentioned, I will use half of my emergency fund to finance it. That will mean some R80,000 shortage in my EF sfter te transaction. I must add that my emergency fund is currently far above our target. If the delay means that I can raise the R80,000 whilst the lawyers are doing their dance, so be it. As long as I have locked the price and am not affected by the rising market prices.

You may be surprised (most likely not) that I actually asked the estate agent about the possibility of a delay in this transaction due to the winding up of the estate. He assured me that, I quote “the transaction shouldn’t take more than the normal six weeks”. I didn’t believe him off course, but I didn’t want to let that stop me from investing in what I saw as a worthwhile experiment. I went ahead and made an offer. Then a month later, a lawyer emails me:
“As you are aware this transfer involves the sale from a deceased estate. There are accordingly a number of formalities that we have to attend to which include obtaining the necessary certificate from the Magistrate in xxxx which is where the late Mrs…. died and where her estate was reported. Accordingly we do not expect to be able to register transfer before the end of November at the earliest.”


Now that’s more believable. November is even a bit too ambitious. I would say January 2013. And that doesn’t bother me. I’d say its enough time for me to be ready to renovate the existing structure and further develop the land. I have never been this extravagant with my time to sellers and lawyers and estate agents. If this deal fails for some reason like deceased kids not seeing eye to eye, or any other reason, I would just cut my loses and move away. Most important to state here is that I havent paid any deposit towards this transaction. I paid the legal fees, which is a negligible amount and specified that the lawyers should invest it in an interest bearing account on my behalf. Buying property from a deceased estate can be too tricky. Whatever you part with should be what you can afford to risk losing.
I haven’t invested my emotions into this, can you guess.

I would love to hear similar stories. Remember to also email me whenever you want to. You may also guest post if you have a personal finance story we can all learn from.

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