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Whether buying or selling a house, you need the services of a good real estate lawyer!
A real estate lawyer is the professional to trust for identifying potential problems with the land, building, or material facts in a sale contract or agreement to purchase.
Your real estate lawyer can also help you to negotiate the terms and price of the property so you can get more value for your money.
Given the fact that a house is the single biggest financial transaction that most Canadians make in their lifetimes, it is recommended that you get a legal expert by your side.
We will explain more in this article the many ways a real estate lawyer can assist with a real estate transaction.
You can also connect with the best real estate lawyers near you by simply filling out our short online form!
Many real estate lawyers and their firms assist people in a variety of real estate transactions. Their services may include one or all of the following:
· Sale or Purchase of a real estate property
· Review of the Agreement to purchase and sales contract
· Land Title transfer, mortgage title transfer, or spousal title transfer
· Refinancing a property
· Assistance to foreign buyers
· Interim closing, bridge or second loans/ mortgages
· Survivorship applications
· Title insurance
· First-time homebuyers real estate purchase
· Trust agreements and declarations
Real estate lawyers assist both buyers and sellers. This means that both parties to a real estate transaction are protected by their legal counsel to ensure that their interests are well-served. In doing so, the risk of a lawsuit in the future regarding the property is minimized.
For a property to change ownership, the seller and buyer enters into a contract and both need to do due diligence. Many of the steps are complex and difficult to understand for laymen. Thus, a real estate lawyer is the expert who can navigate the process, identify and resolve issues, and complete legal requirements for a successful transition.
Lawyers’ roles in the real estate sales process
Most home sellers engage a real estate broker or agent to list the property. It is better, however, to engage a real estate lawyer before the listing.
A real estate lawyer for a seller will assess any potential issues regarding the title, land, or building to provide you with more confidence in offering your property for sale.
Once an Offer to buy and a Sales Agreement are accepted by both parties, and the conditions therein are satisfied, the buyer’s lawyer will execute a title search before the closing to verify if there are any liens or orders registered against the property. He also checks easement and other restrictions affecting the property and settles them to the satisfaction of the buyer.
On the other hand, the seller’s lawyer will ensure that the client settles any outstanding permits or orders and prepares to pay for the proceeds of the sale.
The seller’s lawyer will provide the buyer’s lawyer with a statement of adjustments that details the amounts owed for charges, fees, and expenses (including taxes) related to the property. This statement will be verified and accepted by the seller’s lawyer.
The seller’s lawyer will also check any lines of credit or a mortgage against the property and penalties or discharge fees owing. The seller is responsible for clearing the title before closing, including property taxes outstanding. The lawyer, with the consent of the seller, can use the proceeds of the sale to discharge debts and taxes.
Lawyers of both buyers and sellers negotiate, facilitate, and conclude a real estate transaction so that the parties are satisfied and have peace of mind.
A seller’s lawyer meets with the seller before the closing date to review all of the property documents. After the seller signs them, the lawyer confirms of the client’s identity with a passport or valid driver’s license as required by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC).
On the closing date specified on the Agreement to Purchase, the buyer’s representative pays the balance owed to the seller through the lawyer’s trust account. Upon receipt of the funds, the seller’s lawyer promptly settles all charges owed by the property. He then prepares a letter confirming the completion of the sale and transfers the keys to the buyer or the representative.
As soon as the seller’s lawyer verifies all the expenses including realtor and legal fees, all of the funds remaining can be transferred to the seller’s account or by check, generally within 24 hours.
Real estate lawyers ensure that a real transaction is concluded smoothly, safely, and legally. It is the best approach to buying or selling a property.
Many people refinance a mortgage to get better interest rates or to access home equity to fund expenditures.
When a homeowner refinances a mortgage, he can access up to 80% of the home’s value minus the mortgage balance. The funds can be used to pay for any expenditure including education, home renovation, medical expenses, investment, etc.
While this seems like an exciting prospect, refinancing is also a major financial decision that needs to be carefully considered and understood clearly.
Real estate lawyers can facilitate and make the process easier and ensure that a client fully understood all of the ramifications.
A real estate lawyer will review the mortgage loan and verify the terms and conditions. He will also conduct a title search to check for liens against the home and if a new mortgage can be registered.
Lawyers will take care of:
· Title searches, PPSA searches, etc.
· Balance payouts to financial institutions
· Review and prepare documents
· Register a mortgage against the title
Further, lawyers review a refinancing offer to ensure that a homeowner is not scammed by notorious people who promise lower interest rates without explaining the fees or costs of refinancing. He will make sure the offer is legitimate and that you will be benefitting from refinancing a mortgage.
A real estate lawyer will carefully explain the costs, your total debt, the terms and conditions of your loan agreement, and other confusing jargon. Because lawyers know the ins and outs of mortgage transactions, they are the best professionals to advise you about the risks related to a mortgage transaction.
Discharging a mortgage
When someone purchases a home, the lawyer will receive a mortgage discharge form from the seller’s lawyer if there is a registered mortgage. This document guarantees that the seller will pay off the mortgage and that the seller’s lawyer will discharge it.
A mortgage discharge simply means that the mortgage will not be on the property title as an active mortgage. Thus, if a buyer will decide to sell the home after a few years or to refinance, there won’t be any problems.
Many lending institutions today require title insurance before approving a mortgage application. As a buyer, you may end up buying title insurance for you and your bank’s protection.
Title insurance is a one-time purchase that is very beneficial. If there are problems regarding the title such as easements on the property or undiscovered liens, or other legal issues, title insurance can help you collect compensation. This guarantee provides peace of mind.
Other risks that you can get protection from by purchasing title insurance include:
Mortgage or Title Fraud
Someone can steal personal information and try to transfer the title of your home fraudulently. Once they do. They can sell or mortgage the home without your knowledge, leaving you with debt or homeless.
The Canadian system for the land registry is very safe and secure but it is not foolproof. Criminals can access personal information and use it to obtain a mortgage on your property by impersonating you.
When someone defaults on a mortgage, the lender will foreclose on the property. If you have a mortgage and experiencing problems with your payment, you could be coerced into turning your home over to someone else in exchange for help with your payments. They could sell or refinance your home and leave you with a huge pile of debt and homeless.
Title insurance is another important service offered by real estate lawyers and their firms. You can speak with our partners for more information on title insurance or other legal questions related to real estate.
A matrimonial home can be sold only if both the husband and wife agree to it. In case one spouse tries to sell the property without the other’s knowledge, the buyer can have a legal quagmire in his hands. The transaction can be nullified by the court in certain circumstances.
What is considered a matrimonial home? In Ontario, real estate transactions comply with the definition provided in the Family Act Law which states that a matrimonial home is every property wherein a person has an interest and if spouses have separated, was ordinarily occupied by the person or his spouse as a family residence.
Such interest of the spouse in the matrimonial home gives each of them the right of possession and control over the disposition of the property.
Spouses may have more than one matrimonial home, for instance, a cottage and a primary residence.
Statements of spousal status are needed in Ontario for the transfer documentation when a home is sold or when a mortgage is added to the title as a requirement of the Family Law Act.
Circumstances can vary for different people so it is always advisable to speak with a real estate lawyer.
The average fees charged by real estate lawyers for closing a home can be anywhere from $500 to $1,500, depending on the complexity of the transaction.
Some real estate lawyers charge hourly rates from $300 to $450 per hour + HST and other disbursements. However, some lawyers offer fixed or flat fees that allow clients to budget their funds more effectively.
The fees can also vary depending on your city. For instance, in Toronto, real estate lawyers may charge from $800 to $2,000. Again, some lawyers charge flat fees while others have hourly rates.
Other fees can be related to your real estate transaction such as mortgage registration ($300 to $800).
Every real estate transaction entails contracts and agreements to be drawn up. Although legal fees are additional expenses, professional expertise when it comes to real estate law can save you a ton of headaches and money in the long run.
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There are many real estate lawyers around you but not everyone is the best match for your needs.
A real estate lawyer will be doing a very important task on your behalf. Thus, you need someone reliable and who will inspire your trust and confidence.
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