Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. The seller is responsible for paying the Agent’s commission (minimum of 5%plus VAT of the final agreed sale price), any Capital Gains Tax if applicable and for clearing any outstanding bills on the property. 
  2. The buyer is responsible for paying the transfer fees (normally around 8% of the final agreed sale price)

  1. Capital Gains Tax is the tax payable by sellers on the profit from the sale of their property. In Zimbabwe, in the past, the CGT was 20% of the gain (i.e.the profit made) but due to the various currencies that have been legal tender over the last decade or longer, the CGT is now a flat rate of 5% of the final agreed sale price. 
  2. CGT exemption can be applied for if the following conditions are met:
  • The title deeds of the property are in the owners’ personal names (i.e. not in a Company or Trust name)
  • The people whose names appear on the title deeds 55 years old or over.  If more than one name appears on the title deeds and not all the owners are 55 or over, the appropriate CGT exemption proportion can be applied for.
  • The property is your Principal Primary Resident (PPR). This means that it is the property that you are currently living in.
  • You have lived in the PPR for 4 years or longer. 

YES.  Currently, there are no restrictions on foreign ownership or occupation in Zimbabwe. Section 71 (2) of the Constitution provides that every person shall have the right to own all forms of property. foreigner, therefore, can buy property in Zimbabwe provided the funds used to purchase the property are brought into Zimbabwe from a foreign account.  Should the said foreigner sell the property in the future, it is a relatively easy process to apply to externalize the same amount of money that they brought in. 

The Seller normally specifies the  Conveyancing Lawyer they would like to use. However, the buyer can request to use their own lawyer if it is a CASH transaction.

 

How long will it take to sell my home? 

 

Once the house is on the market, it may take anywhere from four to six weeks to sell. However, if the market is fairly hot, a seller could see their house off the market within a week. On the flip side, if there is a lull in the market or issues arise such as negotiation, lack of exposure, or house conditions then the property can sit on the market for months. 

In sellers’ markets, increasing demand for homes drives up prices. Here are some of the drivers of demand: 

 

Economic factors – the local labor market heats up, bringing an inflow of new residents and pushing up home prices before more inventory can be built. 

 

Interest rates trending downward – improves home affordability, creating more buyer interest, particularly for  first time home buyers  who can afford bigger homes as the cost of money goes lower.

 

A short-term spike in interest rates - may compel “on the fence” buyers to make a purchase if they believe the upward trend will continue. Buyers want to make a move before their purchasing power (the amount they can borrow) gets eroded. 

 

Low inventory - fewer homes on the market because of a lack of new construction. Prices for existing homes may go up because there are fewer units available. 

A buyer’s market is characterized by declining home prices and reduced demand. Several factors may affect long-term and short-term buyer demand, like:  

 

Economic disruption - a big employer shuts down operations, laying off their workforce. 

 

Interest rates trending higher – the amount of money the people can borrow to buy a home is reduced because the cost of money is higher, thus reducing the total number of potential buyers in the market. Home prices drop to meet the level of demand and buyers find better deals. 

 

Short-term drop-in interest rates – can give borrowers a temporary edge with more purchasing power before home prices can react to the recent interest rate changes. 

 

High inventory – a new subdivision and can create downward pressure on prices of older homes nearby, particularly if they lack highly desirable features (modern appliances, etc.) 

 

Natural disasters - a recent earthquake or flooding can tank property values in the neighborhood where those disruptions occurred. 

If you have reached the point of actively looking for a house to buy, you would have been thinking about it for a while and been saving up. 

 

Be very honest and realistic with yourself with regards to your expectations on what you can buy with the money you have. 

 

Decide which areas you want to buy in, taking into account where you work, where your children go to school, where your friends and family live and where you socialize. 

 

Decide whether you are prepared to buy a “fixer-upper” and slowly do it up to your taste as and when you can, or whether you want a home that you can move into and live comfortably

               

Make a list of “must haves” and “nice-to-haves”. 

 

Do a little bit of research on the internet or register with an estate agent who can help you find suitable homes to view or look.  If you do register with an estate agent, be honest with them so they can find properties that meet your criteria.  

This is a tricky question, and the answer primarily depends on one’s funds and ability to find temporary housing. If a client needs more equity to purchase a new home or meet a mortgage plan, then it is best to sell one’s current home before purchasing their next one. That being said, they will most likely need temporary housing at a friend or relatives, or by arranging a short-term rental elsewhere. 

That’s up to you! For sure, home shopping is easier today than ever before. The ability to search for homes online and see pictures, even before setting a foot outside the comfort of your living room, has completely changed the home buying game. Convenience is at an all-time high. But, nothing beats visiting a home to see how it looks and ‘feels’ in person. Unless you have a given yourself a deadline, there is no set time scale for buying a home, nor is there a limit on the number of houses you should view before deciding on one.  However, From start (searching online) to finish (closing), buying a home takes about 10 to 12 weeks. Once a home is selected, an the offer is accepted, the average time to complete the period on a home is 30 to 45 days (under normal market conditions). Though, well-prepared home buyers who pay cash have been known to purchase properties faster than that. 

 

Market conditions are a major factor in how fast homes are sold. In hot markets with a lot of sales activity, buying a home may take a little longer than normal. Trust your instincts and your gut.  You will know within the first 4 minutes of being in a property, whether that is the one that you are going to buy and if it isn’t, no amount of talking it up by an estate agent is going to make you change your mind. 

The best answer is “as many as it takes to find a home that works for you”. Purchasing a home will most likely be the single largest investment you will make, so it is important to make sure you find a home that meets your current and future needs. It’s best not to look at just one home, but also not to look at more than 6 or 7 in one day. It’s common to confuse the features if you view too many in one day. Bring a notepad and pen and take notes on your likes and dislikes of each home. 

How long can the seller take to respond to my offer? 

 

Written offers should stipulate the timeframe in which the seller should respond. Giving them 24-48 hours should be sufficient. However, the seller may ask for extra time if other members of family need to be consulted (especially if they are living out of the country).    

Sellers can flat-out accept or reject an initial offer. But there a third path that is quite common, sellers can initiate a counteroffer. Remember this: a deal isn’t dead until it’s dead. So, if a counteroffer is proffered by the seller, you’re still in the game. You and your agent just need to review it determine whether the counteroffer is acceptable. If so, then approving it closes the deal immediately. Keep in mind, offers and counteroffers can go back-and-forth many times; this is not unusual and negotiations are a part of what Realtors do as a matter of routine. Each revision should bring both parties closer together on the terms of the deal. If you will be able to hit a compromise then your estate agent will continue to look for houses for you, and you will definitely find your dream home! 

On average, the whole process will take approximately 30 working days.  Once your offer has been accepted, an Agreement of Sale (AoS) needs to be drafted, agreed by the two parties and signed.  Payment needs to be made in accordance with the conditions outlined in the Agreement of Sale.  The Seller needs to ensure that all outstanding local authority bills are cleared and both the Seller and the Purchaser will both need to attend a ZIMRA interview at which the CGT assessment will be carried out and hopefully CGT as well are rates clearance certificates will be granted. Once the ZIMRA interview has been carried out and the relevant clearances obtained, the Conveyancer will lodge for deeds with the Registrar of Deeds to do the change of ownership.  

It is important for you to take into account the prevailing state of real estate market especially local market conditions. The real estate market continuously changes and market fluctuations affect property values.  To determine your listing price, you would need to base it on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood.  Your real estate agent can help you with this. 

There are two types of home owners insurance in Zimbabwe:

 

  1. Building Insurance – Cover against fire and accidental damage to the main building as well as all structures or buildings in the stand or yard. Generally included in this too are durawalls, generators, gate motor, all pumps e.g. borehole pumps, swimming pool pumps etc… 
  2. Contents Insurance – This generally covers all items under the house e.g. bed sets, televisions, wardrobes, lounge suites, home theatres, etc with cover against fire, theft and accidental damage. To get full peace of mind, both types of cover are essential as Buildings Insurance covers the structure of your home and Contents Insurance insures your movable possessions. 

You will need to have the original title deeds or share certificate that would have been given to you when the property was transferred into your name.  These documents are extremely important and need to be kept safe. 

You can apply for a new set of title deeds from the Deeds Office or company documents from the Company Registration Office.  It makes it easier to locate the documentation if you have the deed number or Company Incorporation number. Alternatively, you may contact House of Stone Properties agentswho will be able to assist. 

The person who is not present can sign a Power of Attorney (POA) document giving someone (their spouse / partner, friend or lawyer), the authority to sign any documentation on their behalf.   The POA must be signed by a Notary Public and must be accompanied by a copy of the person’s ID or passport which has been certified by the same Notary Public. 

Many people think that it is better, easy and safe buying a property with title deed than one without. To some extentit is true because there are more disadvantages attached to a property without title deed than one with title deed. When a property does not have title deeds it is said to have cession title. This is an alternative form of property ownership. 

Prices of properties sold without title deeds are normally lower than those with title deeds. Have two similar houses one with title deed and another without. The one with title deed will ask for more because generally it has higher demand since many people are looking for something with title deeds. The basic economic laws of supply and demand come into play. The price can be even higher if the buyer is using mortgage loan. Under the current Zimbabwean economy prices are always pushed up when a property is purchased through a mortgage loan. 

 

The cost of changing ownership of cession properties is cheaper in most areas around Zimbabwe. Usually Local Councils charge a fixed fee between $200 and $300 but in areas like Chitungwiza the Council charges 5% of the selling price which is high for a normal transfer. Cession is transfer or ceding of rights and obligations in a property from the seller to the buyer when the property sold has no title deed. It is a legal way of changing ownership practiced by many developers and all local authorities in Zimbabwe. 

The most important thing to do when you come across a property without title deeds is to know why there is no title. You will be amazed to find out that in some cases there is really nothing wrong buying a property with no title deed. But before you express any interest in such a property it is imperative to establish from the seller, estate agent or developer why there is no title deed. Knowing the reason will help you make your informed and right decision on whether to buy it or not. Some of the reasons (for not having title) are easy to deal with while others may be costly, illegal and/or complicated.  

One of the reasons might be that the developer has not yet complied with the requirements of the competent authority. In most cases the developer would be wanting with regards to satisfying the town planning requirements such as putting up culverts, tarred road, water and sometimes sewerage reticulation. A developer is issued with a certificate of compliance after fulfilling all the requirements in terms of the town planning permit granted by a local authority. 

An acre is 4046.86 square metres but most of the time it is rounded to 4047 square metres in conversations. 

A hectare is 10 000 square metres 

A formal valuation is carried out by a Licensed Property Valuer and is based more on the factual information regarding the property e.g. size of the property, layout, number of rooms, structure, condition and faults.  The Valuer will measure everything and produce a detailed, factual report. 

 

A market appraisal is your real estate agent’s opinion of your property value.  They will base their opinion on other sales within the area and their experience.  

 

House of Stone Properties may assist with both formal valuations and market appraisals. 

The Listing Price is the price that the property is advertised for and is being marketed at.  The sale price is the price that is eventually achieved after all negotiations have taken place. 

It is not really necessary for you to be present during showings!  Buyers often feel more comfortable when owners are not present as they can ask the agent difficult questions as well talk openly and freely without worrying about offending you.  If you can’t or don’t want to leave your property, then stay discretely in the background.  If your agent needs to clarify any information, they can ask you after the viewing and liaise with the buyers later. 

In most cases, the reason is that the property is overpriced.  Buyers who feel a property is priced to high will choose to look at other homes before yours and are likely to find a suitable one before they reach yours. 

 

However, it could also be due to personal preferences on the buyers’ side – location and personal requirements.  It could also be due to substandard marketing.  

The sale of moveable appliances and furniture should not be included in the listing price.   Remember that the agent’s commission and CGT (if applicable) is calculated on the final sale price and if you have included the price of appliances or furniture in the sale price, you could be paying more in commission and CGT than necessary.  It is better to explain to your agent that you are open to discussing the sale of the appliances and furniture outside of the negotiations on the sale of your property. 

An open house or show day is when the agent advertises that your home will be available for anyone to view including walk in clients as compared to a pre-arranged set time slot for individual clients.  Open houses or show days are usually a full morning or afternoon and sometimes can be done over two days – one morning and one afternoon.  The objective is to try and attract as many people as possible to view the property. 

Price and condition are the two most important factors when selling a home.  Your agent should help you with this by advising you of comparative sales information.   Secondly, go through your house and repair any obvious cosmetic defects that could deter a buyer or give them a reason to offer a lower price.  

There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Each area will have people who are attracted to it depending on where the tenants work, where their children go to school, their favourite shopping location, their favourite entertainment location and where their family and friends are.  Different strokes for different folks.  In the past, the Northern suburbs in Harare were the desirable locations due to the water and electricity being more reliable.  Nowadays, things like utilities cannot be guaranteed in any area. 

Dealing with tenants can be stressful at times. Especially if you are living overseas, it is advisable to ask an agent to manage your property.  The small management fee that you pay can save you a lot of stress.  The agent takes over all correspondence with tenants and arranges any repairs, collection of rent and any other issues that may arise. 

 

The Agent is responsible for carrying out regular inspections on the property which ensures that the property is being kept in good condition and any issues raised in these inspections can be dealt with quickly before they become bigger problems.   Even if you are living in the same country, some people prefer to have an agent looking after their properties. 

The security deposit is normally the equivalent of one month’s rent plus one month’s levy (where applicable).  However, an owner may ask for more as a deposit. 

In general, due to the fact that you, as the tenant are using the utilities, you are responsible for the paying for these.  In complexes or a block of flats, the levy could cover some of the utilities.  It is important that you check what (if any) utilities are included in the rent or levy. 

A typical  lease agreement in Zimbabwe is for a year.  However, if you are renting privately, you can agree a timescale with your landlord. 

No.  The landlord is responsible for taking out insurance on the structural aspects of the property.  The tenant is responsible for taking out insurance on their personal items within the property. 

A calendar month starts from the first day of the month.  If your lease specifies that you have to hand in X calendar months’ notice, you have to hand in your notice to your landlord on the last day of the month prior to start of your notice period.  If your lease specifies that you have to hand in X months’ notice, you can hand in your notice on any day of the month and the notice period will end on the same date X months later. 

If the blockage is structural, due to old pipes or tree roots, the landlord is responsible for the cost of unblocking the drains.  If the drains are blocked due to a tenant’s irresponsible behavior e.g. throwing rubbish, food waste, hair, oil, sanitary towels or diapers down the drains, the tenant is responsible for the cost of unblocking the drains. 

No.  The landlord is responsible for taking out insurance on the structural aspects of the property.  The tenant is responsible for taking out insurance on their personal items within the property. 

Legally, tenants have 7 days from the date their rent is due, to pay without being penalized.  After that, a penalty can be imposed if it has been stipulated in the lease agreement. 

You can, the probability of finding one of these deals isn’t very high though. A common question from aspiring home buyers is whether rent-to-buy properties exist or whether an owner would consider that option.  The answer is, they are out there, but there are somethings that you need to know before agreeing to a rent-to-buy. 

 

When an owner is offering a “rent-to-buy” property as a possible financing option, they are taking on a high risk since in most cases, a rent-to-buy buyer is generally struggling to get financing.  Therefore, since an owner is taking a higher risk the terms for a rent-to-buy must be considerably favourable for the owner.  This often leads to less than favourable terms for a buyer.  When looking at a rent-to-buy properties as an option you can expect to provide a considerable amount of money as a down payment and most probably a higher interest rate than what a lender is currently offering. 

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