The role of real estate lawyers is to protect all parties’ legal rights throughout the process of selling or buying real estate. Both the Buyer(s) and Seller(s) will need to retain a lawyer, as this is mandatory in Ontario.
Once an Agreement to Purchase and Sale is drafted, your lawyer will review the documents to ensure that it is satisfactory to your needs, and that you fully understand the legal rights and obligations you have agreed to.
For the Buyer, once your offer has been accepted by a Seller, your lawyer will be responsible for a number of searches (due diligence) and administrative tasks. Your lawyer will perform administrative tasks, such as:
- Transfer the billing information with the utility companies
- Make sure that taxes and utility bills are current
- Search to find out if there are any mortgages, liens, or easements registered against the land
- Check with the municipality to make sure there are no unpaid taxes
- Ensure the property complies with the zoning requirements
- Check if there is a current survey of the property, and to make sure that the home/property is accurately described in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale
As an alternative to conducting some of the searches, your lawyer can explain the option of title insurance to you. In fact, most lawyers highly recommend buyers to purchase title insurance, since it gives a great deal of title protection for a one-time low cost.
For the Seller, once all parties have agreed, your lawyer will be responsible for a number of searches and administrative tasks, such as:
- Review the Agreement of Sale and other supporting documents
- Advise you of the terms and conditions
- Prepare the deed to the property
- Deal and remedy title issues as they occur
- Close the transaction
- Ensure all legal and financial conditions have been met
- Exchange legal documents and keys if needed, with the Buyer’s lawyer
Lawyers usually have a set rate, plus actual expenses called disbursements. These may include title searches, and registrations. Each firm or lawyer will charge different fees for handling the transaction. The fee will depend on the complexity, level of service required and the area you live in. You should ask your lawyer for a quote for their fees and disbursements.