The value of a real estate lawyer
When you are buying a home, refinancing your mortgage, or selling your home, there are a number of professionals that you will work with to help facilitate the transaction. In this five-part blog series, we examine the role of the professionals you may encounter in your home buying and/or selling journey to give you a better understanding of the value they bring to the transaction.
In this post, part three of the series, we’ll discuss the role of a real estate lawyer in the process of buying and selling a home.
What is a real estate lawyer?
A real estate lawyer is a licenced professional who handles legal transactions and documents on behalf of home buyers and sellers. You can ask your real estate lawyer for guidance on land titles, purchase and sale contracts, and title insurance.
Your lawyer can help you understand the finer points of contracts, including the purchase or sale agreement. It’s important to understand that when you submit an offer to buy a home, or accept an offer to sell a home, your lawyer should review the agreement before it is submitted to ensure your rights and interests are protected. While many buyers and sellers often think that a review of the agreement comes at the end of the transaction, at closing, an upfront review before the offer is made is critical to ensure a smooth transition on closing day.
What does a real estate lawyer do?
You hire your real estate lawyer to protect your interests in the process of buying or selling your property.
For buyers, in addition to reviewing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and all of the legal documents that are associated with the purchase of a home, your lawyer, among other things, will:
- Help you understand and negotiate the terms and conditions of the purchase
- Check for any liens registered against the property
- Register the title with the land registry office and arrange for title insurance
- Ensure property tax payments are current
- Calculate the correct land transfer tax
- Draw up mortgage documentation and register them with the mortgage holder
If you are the seller in a real estate transaction, you will also benefit from the services of a real estate lawyer, who will act on your behalf and complete all required tasks including to:
- Help you understand and negotiate the terms and conditions of the sale
- Address any title issues and prepare the deed to your home
- Confirm that the legal and financial conditions have been met
- Arrange for transfer or discharge of any mortgages on your property
- Exchange legal documents, receive payment and keys with the buyer’s lawyer to close the transaction
Choosing a real estate lawyer is an important decision. You can speak with friends and family for their referrals, or you can ask your real estate agent for help to find one, as they often have a network of trusted professionals with whom they work closely. Make sure the lawyer you choose has experience with real estate transactions, including transactions in the area where you live.
How are real estate transactions different in Quebec?
In the province of Quebec, the process is different, but there is still a person who is assigned to act in your best interest. In Quebec, a notary performs title searches, reviews the purchase and sale documents, ensures the property tax account on the house is current, and will facilitate the mortgage details with your lender if you are taking out a mortgage to buy the property.
Whether you’re buying, selling, or refinancing a home, taking the time to learn more about the people and companies you can expect to work with can help you feel more confident about the process. Be sure to visit the rest of the posts in our series on real estate industry professionals:
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