Buying a home may be the largest purchase of your life, and while it can be an exciting time, it can also be stressful. Luckily, there are people available to support you and your family as you navigate your home purchase.
If you have worked with a Real Estate Agent, you already know what they do. They help you find the right home and guide you through the offer phase to an accepted purchase and sale agreement. In many transactions a real estate lawyer is not involved in this part of the home purchase (exceptions being condominium purchases which may require a lawyer to review the Status Certificate or deals where the purchaser would feel more comfortable with a lawyer reviewing the terms of the agreement). Once you have a firm deal, with all conditions waived, your real estate agent will send the Agreement of Purchase and Sale to your real estate lawyer.
The real estate lawyer reviews the agreement and then begins a further review of title. Real estate lawyers have access to government records which show the history of the instruments which have been registered on title to the property you are buying – this can be anything from the times the home was sold (transfers) or mortgaged (charges) but may also include items such as notices of security from companies which provide air conditioning or heating equipment (and which form a claim against the property) or notices from the municipality. Often tax certificates and utility area statements are ordered. A real estate lawyer checks that all is in order with your purchase and this often includes checking the lands of your neighbours. This is done to ensure that you have good title – that is to say, that you are getting what you think you are getting, and no one else has a claim against it. Finally, based on these searches a lawyer will likely get a policy of title insurance to insure against a multitude of claims or issues which could arise and are beyond the scope of the searches commonly performed.
Usually there are documents registered on title which must be removed. Most commonly the person selling the home has a mortgage registered against the property. Your lawyer will take steps to ensure that these items are removed. There will be exchanges with the seller’s lawyer where any adjustments (for items like realty taxes paid or outstanding) are made and documents to protect your interests are signed by the seller, while you sign documents to protect the seller and ensure you take title as the new property owner. Finally, in almost all transactions it is necessary that the funds are drawn on a lawyer’s trust account. Given the price of houses it would be unwise to simply send the funds off to an individual purporting to own a home – for this reason the funds are sent from your lawyer to the seller’s lawyer with each taking steps to identify their client. On the day of closing there is an exchange between the two lawyers where funds, documents and keys are exchanged, and the transfer of the property is legally registered. If you have arranged a mortgage loan to finance your home purchase, your real estate lawyer is involved with that as well.
If you need help with any kind of real estate transaction, we would be happy to help and invite you to contact us.