FICA documents- A legal requirement in a Property Sale

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Properties in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg are taking, on average, between eleven weeks to sell in the current market, provided they are priced correctly. However, there are some stumbling blocks that are holding up the listing of available property stock, the biggest being resistance from sellers when it comes to providing the required Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) documentation before a property can be listed on the market.

The limited supply of property in the northern Johannesburg is driving demand, and the market is currently buoyant. This is evidenced by the fact that properties priced below R1.2 million are most often selling within a matter of days. The various financial institutions also have a bigger appetite for home loan credit, meaning more loans are being granted- specifically 100% loans- which is also influencing the current property market trading conditions.

Despite this market Buoyancy, one of the factors hindering the placement of property stock on the market by estate agents is refusal by many sellers to provide the necessary FICA documentation that estate agents are required to have. Estate agents and landlords need to have proof that a person is who hey say they are before they can list or sell a property. This is a legal requirement, as estate agents are required, on request, to provide to the Financial Intelligence Centre and to the Estate Agency Affairs Board that they have complied with these obligations. This is a basic requirement that all estate agents must adhere to. If an estate agent does not establish that a particular person is the true owner of the property at the start of the transaction and relationship, will they work in the seller’s best interest going forward?

The Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 38 of 2001 requires all estate agents and landlords to comply fully with the applicable FICA requirements. These requirements state that estate agents are obligated to make use of certain designated forms for the purpose of establishing and verifying the identity of their clients. This means establishing and verifying the identities of natural persons who are South African citizens or residents of South Africa; citizens or residents of a country other than South Africa; a close corporation; a South African company or partnership. This means that whether a property being sold is owned by an individual, a company or a trust, these FICA documents will be required by law. The same FICA documentation to establish and verify the identity of a person, company or partnership is also required from buyers, landlords and tenants.

This means that whether a property being sold is owned by an individual, a company or a trust, these FICA documents will be required by law. The same FICA documentation to establish and verify the identity of a person, company or partnership is also required from buyers, landlords and tenants.

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