Barring British Columbia or Quebec, you ought to hire a lawyer in order to buy or sell a house in any other province of Canada. However, even in these two provinces you will be requiring a notary when you want to buy or sell a house. All said and done, no matter where you reside in Canada or where you want to buy or sell a property, it is always wise to engage the services of a lawyer, especially a legal expert who specializes in real estate matters. Any experienced legal expert will be able to help you save considerable amounts of money by ensuring that the mortgage is dealt with appropriately the deed to the property is transparent and that there are no surprises like tax arrears or liens are lying in wait.
Your legal representative will meet and have a discussion with the lawyer of the buyer or seller, whom you may be dealing with and, as your agent will be working for your benefit, your lawyer will also take care of your interests. When you hire a lawyer, you may look forward to a reasonable amount of paperwork when the time for closing the deal is at hand. However, unlike using the services of your agent, whose commission is paid by the seller and at the end of the transaction, when you hire a lawyer, you need to pay the legal fees on the very day you buy or sell a house.
It may be mentioned here that before you submit an offer to the seller, it is always advisable to send the offer to your legal representative for reviewing it. In fact, it is possible that you may have missed out including certain vital points in the offer and your lawyer may recommend that you incorporate certain clauses in the offer for your added protection. Most importantly, you cannot do without the help of a lawyer if you are dealing to buy a condominium as the procedure involved is too complex.
In fact, it is always a wise move to hire a legal representative even before you commence shopping for a real estate property, as this will provide you with an added advantage. This is primarily owing to the fact that when you have a lawyer to help you, it is possible to close a deal quickly, say within 30 days or so, and you would definitely not want to waste your time unnecessarily tying to look for someone to help you out. It may be mentioned here that the process of appropriately searching the title on a house and being in contact with all the indispensable agencies alone takes a minimum of a month's time. So, be prepared by engaging the services of an agent and a lawyer before you start shopping for a house.
Now the question is how to find a good and experienced lawyer. Like looking for an agent, while finding a good and experienced lawyer, you need to depend on verbal recommendations of people who have already used the services of legal experts in real estate transactions. Hence, you need to go around and talk to people regarding the subject and seek their opinion and recommendations. In addition, every real estate agent worth his or her name will definitely know the names of experienced real estate lawyers in a particular locality and this is indeed a tremendous and very useful source of information. Besides, you may also get in touch with the provincial law society and they will provide you with a list of names of lawyers specializing in real estate matters in your locality. Finally, you may surf the Internet any time to get names of lawyers as well as legal firms that may assist you in your endeavor to look for a new house.
There may be situations when you may be lured to simply allow the legal representative of the other party - the buyer or seller with whom you may be dealing with, to deal with your transactions too. Here is a word of caution, no matter how much you are tempted, just don't do this ever. A real estate transaction involves a roaring clash of interests between the buyer and the seller and these needs to be shunned at every cost. You always need to bear in mind that as a buyer or a seller, you have a very crucial personal program and your interests or concerns are not similar to those with whom you may be dealing with. Hence, try to get independent advice and the most excellent that you can perhaps come across.
As a buyer, there are a number of fundamental things that you ought to do for yourself. First and foremost, it is essential for you to obtain a clear and clean title to the land that you are planning to buy. Before you do this, never ever try to get a mortgage for yourself. Therefore, it is essential to find out the authenticity of all the claims against a property and then they need to be handled accordingly. Any subject that may have an affect on the property, irrespective of its nature and age, may nip your prospects of acquiring the property or getting the title in the bud.
When you hire the services of a legal expert, he or she will look for and investigate the history of the property at the neighborhood land registry office or now online in a number of provincial jurisdictions. The history of the property will enable you to learn about what the earlier owners of the place paid for the residential real estate, the time when they invested money on it as well as the amount of financing. Besides, your lawyer will also communicate with all the local utility service providers to find out if there is any outstanding bill on the property. And, in case there are unpaid bills against the property, the entire outstanding amount will be subtracted from the earnings of the sale going to the seller. A similar procedure is followed in terms of unpaid taxes on the property. In addition, your legal representative will also work to get a clean bill of health for the property concerned ensuring that it is in compliance with the zoning prerequisites. And, in the case of a country home, the lawyer will try to find out if the well and the septic tank are legally permitted and in a working condition. If it is found that they do not meet the conditions, he or she will do the needful to ensure that they are legally sanctioned as well as operational.
Try to find out if the house you are trying to buy is really located within the lot-lines of the property it is built upon. Also find out if the residential real estate is located exactly where it is supposed to be. Although these may seem to be foolish questions to many, in reality, they are very crucial points to be discovered. Actually, as a buyer, you should have always incorporated these aspects or issues in your offer by having a good and up-to-date survey done at the expense of the seller.
The lawyer's job also comprises registering you or you and your spouse as the owners of the residential property. In other words, he or she is responsible for putting you or you and your spouse, as the case may be, on the title to the property. This is extremely crucial, as in the event of your marriage breaking down, the decrees of family law specify that the real estate assets should be divided between you and your former spouse. When both you and your spouse are owners of the property, your lawyer will register joint tenancy. In this case, if any one of you dies, the other will automatically obtain the solo title to the property and that too without having to pay any additional tax for this.
All these apart, the closing day is always there. On this particular day your lawyer will place a several inches thick file folder on the table and ask you to sign an assortment of forms. In addition, you also need to take into account the closing expenses, including legal fees, land transfer tax, other payments and others that usually sum up to approximately 2 per cent of the purchase price of the home. Hence, it is important that you prepare a budget for all these expenses beforehand. Next, your legal representative will meet the lawyer of the seller at the registry office, usually where the transaction is registered and the keys of the home are handed over. A few weeks later, you will receive a document package containing the details of all financial aspects of the real estate transaction. Now, your job is to keep these records in safe custody for future references.
Usually the costs of hiring a lawyer differ depending on various aspects. It is advisable that before you hire a legal representative; ask him or her regarding an approximate payment to be made for availing his or her services. You may expect them to respond in the form of a flat fee. Precisely speaking, this means that the charges will not increase every time you want to know something from your lawyer. However, you should be prepared to pay for plenty of irksome small fees, such as expenses towards long distance telephone calls, courier services and photocopy charges.
However, it needs to be remembered that if the real estate deal is of an intricate nature, the charges for hiring a lawyer may shoot up or change remarkably. This usually happens when you are dealing for a commercial property.