As commercial property agents, it's essential to understand the laws regulating the acquisition of real estate by non-residents in South Africa. These regulations, set out in our Immigration Act 23 of 2002, govern the stay and exit of non-citizens and other related issues. In this context, non-citizens are individuals who are not South African citizens.

Despite their non-resident status, foreigners are entitled to purchase and possess immovable property in South Africa. However, it's crucial to note that the ownership of property in South Africa does not guarantee automatic entry into the country. International property owners are also required to fulfill our country's visa prerequisites.

Consequently, the acquisition of South African property by a foreigner residing outside the country, in principle, does not present any obstacles. However, if the foreigner is present in South Africa and engages in the transaction while in the country, it's critical to confirm their legal status here first. The validity of their stay can typically be verified through a valid visa, work permit, or residence permit.

In case a foreigner is present in South Africa without a proper visa or permit, it is unlawful for them to buy property in the country. In fact, according to section 42 of the Immigration Act, any individual including property agents, conveyancing attorneys, or others are prohibited from assisting a non-resident without proper legal status, whether it involves leasing, selling or in any way making the immovable property available to them.

From a conveyancing perspective, it's important to remember that lack of awareness is not a valid defense in any criminal proceedings resulting from a violation of this provision. It's the responsibility of the seller, agent, conveyancer, or property lawyer to ascertain the legality of the foreign buyer's stay when the sale agreement is concluded and throughout the transaction. Failing to do so may result in potential criminal liability.