Property Lawyer Buying & Selling a Home

Role of Property Lawyer in Buying & Selling a Home

If you are buying a house, or selling your house, your real estate agent will probably ask you the name of your lawyer. If you are like many people, you do not really have a “lawyer”. However, you need a lawyer when you buy or sell a house. The recording system for land ownership in Ontario is all computerized. The computerized land registry system in Ontario is set up so that only lawyers are allowed to enter the computerized system and change ownership of land, and register and delete mortgages on land. This was done to protect against fraud. The “Lawyer Rules” (Officially Called the Rules of Professional Conduct) also require a different lawyer on both sides of a purchase and sale transaction, in most cases.

Your next question should be “If I have to have a lawyer, why should Brad Langford be my lawyer?” Firstly, you will get to actually meet your lawyer (Brad Langford) when you review and sign your papers and ask him any questions that you may have. Secondly, Brad and his legal assistants, Shirley and Susan will treat you with respect and try to clearly explain things, answering your questions in language that you can understand.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Remember:“Buyer Beware” is still the law in Ontario. Be sure to check out the home you are planning to buy very carefully.

Do I need a property lawyer when I buy a home?

If you are buying a house, or selling your house, your real estate agent will probably ask you the name of your lawyer. If you are like many people, you do not really have a “lawyer”. However, you need a lawyer when you buy or sell a house. The recording system for land ownership in Ontario is all computerized. And the computerized land registry system in Ontario is set up so that only lawyers are allowed to enter the computerized system and change ownership of land, and register and delete mortgages on land. This was done to protect against fraud. The developers of the computerized land registry system have since found that making lawyers the gatekeepers of the system is a bit like putting foxes in charge of the henhouse. The concept was that it would make the system safer. The “Lawyer Rules” (Officially Called the Rules of Professional Conduct) also require a different lawyer on both sides of a purchase and sale transaction, in most cases. Your next question should be “If I have to have a lawyer, why should Brad Langford be my lawyer?” Firstly, you will get to actually meet your lawyer (Brad Langford) when you review and sign your papers and ask him any questions that you may have. Secondly, Brad and legal assistants, Shirley and Susan will treat you with respect and try to clearly explain things, answering your questions in language that you can understand.

Do I need a property lawyer when I sell a home?

Yes. Selling land is more complicated than it may seem. In order to complete the sale of land, the seller of land has to assure the purchaser of land that he can transfer good title to the land he is selling. As such, the seller must understand real estate law and procedure to properly assure the purchaser of the land that he has good title to the land. The lawyer for the purchaser will ask the seller certain questions about the land that is being sold. If these answers are not answered properly, the sale of the land may not be completed on time, or at all. Your lawyer will ensure that the other lawyer’s questions are answered properly. The lawyer for the purchaser will want certain things done and certain papers prepared and signed prior to the transfer of the land. You will have to prepare and sign a number of papers promising certain things about the land. If you do not have a lawyer helping you, you may promise more than you can deliver. Your lawyer will ensure that this does not happen. Finally, your lawyer will make sure that you receive the full amount of money you expected when you signed the sale contract. Your lawyer will guide you through the home selling process and ensure that your legal rights and financial interests are protected.

When should I get a lawyer involved?

You should get your lawyer involved as soon as possible in the process. Once you bring your lawyer into the picture, she can start working to protect your interests. Ideally, you should consult a lawyer before you sign an agreement of purchase and sale, although usually your lawyer is contacted after this is signed.

You should definitely consult with a lawyer in situations where an offer to purchase your home contains any kind of unusual conditions or stipulations. Anything beyond the standard form and the usual conditions as to an inspection, mortgage financing, and condition as to the sale of the purchaser’s home is unusual. If you are not sure whether something is out of the ordinary, consult a lawyer, or at least ask the real estate agent. When selling your home, your lawyer can ensure that the sale contract contains the necessary legal language to protect you, should your sale transaction not progress as you originally anticipated.

Small details can be very important in real estate transactions. Items left out in the original sale contract can lead to a legal issue later. Legal issues can be often be avoided by obtaining legal advice from a lawyer early on in the process of selling your home.

How do I choose a property lawyer to represent me for the sale of my home?

You may wish to talk to friends or family about who they dealt with on their real estate deals. They will tell whether the lawyer treated them well and whether the lawyer dealt with things competently and in a timely manner. If a lawyer treats you poorly, or if you do not like them or get along with them, see someone else. If you can find someone who is certified as a specialist in real estate law, they will often be the most qualified in real estate law. If you have already worked with a lawyer, and like this lawyer, ask if they do real estate law, or, if not, whether they can recommend someone who does.

What will it cost?

Remember that you may have to pay real estate commission and Land Transfer Tax in addition to your legal costs. Title insurance or a survey will usually be required if you are putting on a mortgage on a purchase. Title insurance or a survey is usually a good idea in any event even if you are not putting on a mortgage. Don’t forget about moving expenses, and utility reconnect fees. If you are paying out a mortgage prior to term, this will usually be costly, so be careful. A home inspection is a really good idea, and this cost will depend on the inspector. Disbursements, which are expenses that the lawyer has to pay out to register documents, to obtain title insurance, to obtain a title search on a property, to obtain reports and certificates from third parties will usually cost $1,000 plus HST on a purchase, including title insurance, and $500 plus HST on a sale.

Langford Law Offices Fee Schedule*:

  • $1000 plus HST in legal fees for a purchase or for a sale of land, plus disbursements, subject to increase due to complexity of the transactions and incidental work.
  • $650 plus HST plus disbursements for a mortgage only
  • $1,500 plus HST in legal fees plus disbursements for a purchase and a mortgage.

E & O.E.
For more information check out the link to the Ministry of Consumer Services:

http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Homes_Buying_and_Selling.aspx

*Fees subject to change without notice. Fees do not include HST and are for residential properties only.