Buying a home is probably one of the most important and expensive purchases of your life. No matter if it is a short-term decision for a place to live in or a long-term decision as an investment. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a real estate investor in this crazy Toronto real estate market, you will need the professional help of a Toronto real estate agent and a real estate lawyer to make sure you’re doing everything right.
People may sometimes assume that the role of real estate lawyers can be interchangeable with real estate agents. But the truth is they have completely different roles and responsibilities in buying and selling transactions. Here, we are going to review all the important reasons why you need a real estate lawyer in Toronto.
Before you sell your house or buy your dream house, you should think about all the professionals who will and can help you during the whole process. You will need the professional help of a team, including a home inspector, a real estate agent, and a real estate lawyer. The role and duties of a home inspector in the home inspection process are obvious. But what is the difference between what a real estate agent and a real estate lawyer do?
The difference between real estate agents and real estate lawyers
When it comes to a property transaction, both real estate agents and lawyers could be beneficial, but they offer you completely different services. The responsibility of a real estate agent is to make the challenging process of buying or selling a home easier for you. They generally manage all the house inspections, negotiations, paperwork, contracts, necessary documents and running open houses.
On the other hand, your real estate lawyer will review all the documents and transactions. They can also help you to know more about property title, purchase contracts and home insurance. Besides, in case of any legal problems, the real estate lawyer will not only provide you with all the required legal advice but also step in to represent and defend you in court if necessary.
Responsibilities of the real estate lawyer to the home buyers
If you are a home buyer you might ask yourself why you would need a real estate lawyer. When you want to buy a house, it is a wise decision to use the services of a real estate lawyer early in the process. Their legal expertise and knowledge would be so useful for handling the negotiations and legal documents. Some of the most important responsibilities of real estate lawyers to home buyers include:
- Reviewing the Agreement of Purchase and related documentation.
- Preparing the mortgage documents.
- Conducting a title search and obtaining title insurance to register the home in your name, checking for unresolved work orders or permits.
- Making sure that you have a valid title upon closing.
- Making sure if the property has any claims, liens, or outstanding debts.
- Ensure property taxes are up to date.
- Calculating the land transfer tax.
- Reviewing additional charges like energy bills, or new installation for a newly constructed house.
- Explaining the benefits of title insurance and arranging for it on behalf of the buyer.
- Resolving all legal and financial issues by the closing deadline.
- Facilitating legal documents, title ownership and exchanging the keys with the seller’s lawyer.
Responsibilities of the real estate lawyer to the home sellers
Home sellers are amongst the people who need a real estate lawyer’s services to do the closing and other legal work as well. The most important role of a real estate lawyer for sellers is to protect them from any costly errors during the selling process. Some of the most important responsibilities of real estate lawyers to home sellers include:
- Reviewing the Agreement of Sale and other legal documents before you sign; validating all the terms and conditions.
- Confirming the Statement of Adjustments.
- Dealing with title issues.
- Identifying the verification in compliance with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).
- Confirming the mortgage amount and any lines of credit, debts or penalties which may be owing at the time of closing.
- Resolving all legal and financial issues by the closing deadline.
- Closing the transaction.
- Exchanging the legal documents and keys with the Buyer’s lawyer.
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How much are the real estate lawyer and legal fees
The total amount of legal fees associated with purchasing or selling a home totally depends on the whole transaction process and the level of expertise of your real estate lawyer. Generally, it varies based on the type of home you are selling or buying. In Toronto, this may cost you anywhere from $700 to $2,000.
It also depends on your real estate lawyer. Because some of them may estimate hourly charges for their assistance, while others prefer to charge a flat fee for their services. You should also remember that registering the mortgage on your behalf can cost you another $300 to $800.
In the case of selling your home, there might be additional contracts and more paperwork to do, this can result in higher charges for the real estate lawyer. But it doesn’t mean unnecessary additional expenses, because having a professional legal advisor will have long term advantages in terms of time and money. So, I can make you sure that hiring a real estate lawyer will be worth it.
How to choose the best real estate lawyer
Now that you know hiring a real estate lawyer can safeguard your best interest, it is time to make sure you find the best real estate lawyer. The way that the closing process goes, depends on the expertise of your real estate lawyer. So you should choose carefully!
- Your lawyer should be proactive and give you timely updates.
- Your lawyer should know the real estate games and how to protect your best interests. It means he/she should have the ability to recognize any potential problem before it happens.
- If your lawyer is “digitally” equipped, he/she would be able to handle the speed required in the process of closing a transaction. This can be a key advantage, otherwise, delays may cost you time and money.
- Before you hire, pay attention to the contracts and fees. Are the lawyer’s fees easy to understand? Is there an all-inclusive price or are there hidden fees? Is the title insurance fees included? The title insurance is necessary by the time of your purchase. So, if a lawyer told you something different, you better forget about that one!
- And the most important tip is to check if the real estate lawyer is expelled from the legal profession or not by searching their name on the Law of Society of Upper Canada Website. The updated data on this website is reliable.
Therefore, an experienced real estate lawyer can definitely make the complicated process of selling or buying a property less unchallenging for you. So, don’t take a risk and choose the best real estate lawyer for your best benefit.