Real estate agents can often recommend a good real estate lawyer. So might family or friends who have used lawyers. Ontario residents can access the Law Society Referral Service who will provide the name of a lawyer or paralegal for a recommendation. The Provincial Law Society may also publish an online directory of legal specialists, including real estate.
Lawyers who consider themselves as having a real estate specialty should spend at least 90 percent of their time on residential real estate cases. Many lawyers just handle the odd real estate case and may miss some of the important real estate subtleties.
Importance of finding a lawyer.
When two home buyers bought a new home in Ontario, they learned the value of choosing a real estate lawyer. A few days before the closing, the buyers received a call from the seller’s lawyer, saying that they immediately had to pay $1,100 in property taxes. The letter stated that the sellers had paid the final property taxes for the year. The buyers would have to reimburse them before the house sale could close.
It was a stressful moment until a knowledgeable family member called the city and discovered that the seller actually owed the city $500 in unpaid taxes. This meant that the sellers could not demand to be reimbursed for anything. The buyers hired a real estate lawyer who sent the sellers a letter demanding that the unpaid taxes be paid. The sellers paid and the sale went though.
Often Canadian real estate buyers don’t call a lawyer until the deal is done and signed. The call the lawyer afterwards to do a title search, register the deed, and handle the funds transfer. Actually, many found that hiring a real estate lawyer early in the buying process can save substantial money.
Getting a lawyer to review paperwork ahead of a purchase, the subtleties of language, can make a huge difference. Using the word “easement” instead of “encroachment” can make a large difference in compensatory payments. Making sure the purchase agreement makes the sale “conditional on getting the financing he [the buyer] wants,” not “conditional on financing” can save a lot of trouble later. The latter will make the buyer accept any financing the bank offers.
If the property being purchased is a condominium, home buyers will need a lawyer to help decipher the 30 to 50 page purchase agreement that can hide a whole range of important conditions that can make life difficult. Added charges like warranty protections against building defects or water meter and hydro installation can inflate the purchase price if not caught by a sharp legal eye.
The real estate law community in Canada.
Canadian real estate lawyers are unlikely to be basing their practices on foreclosures and short sells. The Canadian banking system is tightly controlled. Ninety percent of all mortgages are provided by one of the five major Canadian banks. Canadian banks do not offer thirty year fixed mortgages. Mortgage rates will adjust every five years in Canada. In Canada, a real down payment is necessary for the purchase of a house and credit demands are stiffer than the U.S..
When choosing a real estate lawyer, consider the law firms they work in. Does the firm appear to have the profile of expertise that can help your individual case? Real estate lawyers who tend to represent landlords, contractors, developers, banks, and financial institutions might not be able to fairly represent a borrower or a consumer. Look for a list of representative cases to see if the lawyer’s clients have similar interests to your own.
Oakville Real Estate Law operates almost exclusively in the field of Residential Real Estate Law, very aware of the stresses involved in the purchase and sale of your home. Please contact us to learn more.