Buying a Property in South Africa

Buying a Property in South Africa

Richard Bedford

Richard Bedford

Legislative and practical requirements for the purchase of real estate property in SA by a non-resident.

Non-residents may own property in SA, either partially or wholly, in their own names or through ownership of interest in one or other legal entity.

Property ownership can be by freehold title, leasehold title, sectional title or through a share block scheme.

Non-residents must fund a minimum of 50% of the purchase price of any property by funds brought into SA from abroad.

Consequently, a non-resident may avail him/herself of a mortgage bond offered by a SA financial institution up to a maximum of 50% of the purchase price.

All transactions whereby a non-resident acquires property in SA are processed by the Reserve Bank via a SA commercial bank.

The funds to be brought into SA by the non-resident for the purpose of purchasing property can be transferred via commercial banks into the trust account of the attorney (solicitor) attending to the conveyancing work, where it will be held on behalf of and for the benefit of the purchaser.

The following documents will be required to be submitted by or on behalf of the non-resident purchaser:

  • a copy of the offer to purchase
  • the mortgage bond application (if applicable)
  • a copy of the purchaser's passport
  • a letter from the conveyancing attorney (solicitor) confirming that a minimum of 50% of the purchase price has been introduced from abroad.

If the non-resident property owner rents out the property, he/she will be liable for SA tax on the income received (less all costs associated with maintaining the property).

Upon disposal of the property, a non-resident may repatriate the funds originally introduced from abroad, in full, plus any capital gain.
The procedure for transfer of ownership can take 8-10 weeks from finalisation of the sale.

Transfer duty is payable at the following rate:

  • the first R 100 000 is free of transfer duty,
  • 5% of the purchase price from R 100 001 to R 300 000,
  • 8% of the purchase price above R 300 000, if the purchaser is a natural person.
  • Legal entities pay a flat rate of 10% of the purchase price.

Attorney's costs in connection with the conveyancing work are borne by the purchaser.

South Africa has one of the most sophisticated and secure real estate property ownership registration systems in the world. The Deeds Registry is controlled by the South African Department of Land Affairs and property ownership rights are guaranteed by the Constitution to both residents and non-residents alike.

If you have any further enquiries regarding the purchase of real estate property in South Africa, please e-mail Richard: and he will respond.

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