The Zimbabwean property market has often been levelled with criticism for its pricing which is nothing short of extortionate. Property prices are ridiculously high when compared to regional prices. Add to that lower rental yields than many neighbouring countries and some Zimbabweans have inevitably thought of buying property in a country like South Africa. Let’s look at the process and requirements for buying property in South Africa for a Zimbabwean resident.

Finding Property

The first thing you would need to do is g=find the property to buy. Thanks to technology this has become so much easier with online listing sites aplenty in South Africa. You can start the search for a house alone but to commence the transaction you will be better off using the services of a real estate agent. The choice of agent may be guided by the property you have identified or you may engage an agent to find property for you, whichever the case make sure that the real estate agent is registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board. They issue an annual certificate to all compliant members. Once you settle on a real estate agent they will handle the transacting process going forward.

Payment and Finance

Payment for the property has many important steps involved that you need to be aware of. Firstly, you intend to apply for mortgage finance because banks are allowed to finance a maximum of 50% of the property price for non-residents. If you intend to work or spend some time in South Africa this can be increased but they will generally stick to the 50% marker. The next part applies whether or not you are using mortgage finance. When money is paid for the deposit or property it must go through the Reserve Bank and into the trust account of the responsible agent to satisfy authorities that the money is in fact for property purchase.


You will have to be aware of some costs when it comes to buying property in South Africa. If you are buying a property that is already developed and complete you will pay transfer duty which can be as high as 11% of the property value. If you are buying something that is not yet developed or constructed no transfer duty applies. Instead, the foreign resident will pay a VAT of 15% when buying from the developer. So it’s important to be clear on the status of the seller.

Agent’s commission

Another important cost to consider is the agent’s commission. The agent’s commission on the sale of a property is paid by the person who engaged the agent. So if you instruct an agent to find a house for you, you should be aware that you may be expected to pay the agent’s commission. In most cases, this responsibility rests with the seller who engages the agent to dispose of the property. Be clear with your agent which is which.


Insurance is also another important pillar of the property buying process. You will be required to have building insurance. If you are taking out a mortgage on the property the provider may also require you to have life assurance.


Finally we will take a brief overview of the steps involved in completing the purchase of property in South Africa. You will need to find the property and/or agent. Once that is settled you will make an offer on the property. Once both parties agree on the offer a contract can then be forwarded to transfer attorneys. If a mortgage is being used it will then need to be approved by the provider. Fees and deposits are then paid. Once the deposit and other upfront fees are paid documents are fully signed and sent to the deeds office and lodged. The property will then be registered in the new owner’s name. This completes the transfer of ownership and the transaction.