The Importance of Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer for My Real Estate Transaction

photo of a real estate lawyer preparing legal documents for the purchase of a new home in Edmonton

Hiring a real estate lawyer is essential if you want to avoid mistakes and ensure a smooth transaction when buying, selling, building, or refinancing a property in Alberta.  Purchasing a home is often the biggest investment in many people’s lives. We are here to ensure you are protected and informed every step of the way.

What is a Real Property Report? How do I transfer a land title into my name once I buy a home? How do I pay my real estate agent? What is Title Insurance? What is Joint Tenancy? What is a Certificate of Compliance?

These are only some of the questions we typically hear from people when they are choosing to buy, sell, build or refinance a property. When you choose a real estate lawyer, you need to make sure your representative is there for you and will explain the process, so you understand exactly what you’re obligated to do.

Real Estate Lawyers Are There to Protect Your Interests

When you are involved in buying, selling, building, or refinancing a property in Alberta, it is in your best interests to use a lawyer.

Real estate lawyers review all documents and ensure that there are no errors and that your transaction is executed properly.  Some of the documents your lawyer will review are as follows:

  • Purchase/Sale Contract – Real estate lawyers enforce this contract for both buyers and sellers to ensure that all parties adhere to what has been agreed upon.
  • Title searches – Your lawyer will review the current land title to ensure both buyers and sellers are protected against any unexpected encumbrances that are currently registered. Encumbrances can mean any mortgages, writs, liens or caveats that are tied to the current landowner.
  • Property tax searches – Your lawyer will pull a Tax Certificate to ensure that property taxes are up to date and that proper adjustments are made on closing.
  • Real Property Report and Certificate of Compliance – Your lawyer will review these documents to ensure that all structures and buildings on the land are within the property limits and comply with relevant municipal guidelines.

Participating in any real estate transaction involves a large amount of paperwork. Real estate lawyers use their experience to give you peace of mind.

With most purchases, refinances and new home builds, lenders will require the use of a real estate lawyer so that they can ensure that their investment is protected.  Hiring the correct lawyer for this is essential.

Similarly, on a sale, if there is a mortgage on title, the buyer’s lawyer will insist that you use a lawyer so that the mortgage can be discharged properly.

How Much Does a Lawyer Charge for Closing Fees?

When shopping around at different law firms to see who should represent you, you will often hear them state their fees as a flat rate “plus disbursements and GST”.  So, what are disbursements? Disbursements are expenses that the firm pays to third parties on your behalf, to efficiently close the transaction.  Disbursements will depend on the role you take in a transaction as well as its complexity.  The following are some of the more commonly incurred disbursements:

  • Registration fees relating to adding new owners on title;
  • Registration fees relating to adding mortgage on title;
  • Discharging a current mortgage;
  • Fees relating to ordering a new Real Property Report & Certificate of Compliance or title insurance;
  • Obtaining Estoppel Certificates and other associated condominium documents when selling a Condominium;
  • Title searches;
  • Tax Certificates;
  • Runner/courier charges;
  • Office charges associated with Opening, Closing and Preserving a File.

Safi Law Group offers very affordable real estate legal fees. We strive to keep costs down and are passionate about making sure your home transition as smooth and worry-free as possible.

What Happens If I Do Not Have A Lawyer?

A real estate transaction is essentially an exchange of land title and keys for money.  To genuinely appreciate a lawyer’s role, imagine a transaction without a lawyer:

  • From the purchaser’s perspective
    • Purchase does not want to give any money to the seller until a Transfer of Land is executed and the seller has ensured their title will be clear of any and all encumbrances that are attached to the seller.
  • From the seller’s perspective
    • Seller is not comfortable with providing an executed Transfer of Land until money has been received.

By using lawyers and their ability to impose trust conditions and provide undertakings, the risks faced by purchasers, sellers and financial institutions are greatly reduced.

In Alberta, only lawyers can use trust conditions and undertakings.  Lawyers use trust conditions, which are obligations imposed on a lawyer, and undertakings, which are promises given by a lawyer, when facilitating a real estate transaction. Trust conditions and undertakings provide buyers, sellers and financial institutions ease of mind that each party will receive what is promised to them.

Financial Institutions / Lenders

Financial institutions and lenders require that clients have a lawyer in good standing with the Law Society assisting with any real estate transactions.

Most lenders for new homeowners will not advance any mortgage proceeds without a lawyer.  Banks and other financial institutions rely on real estate lawyers to make sure that they are on title in the appropriate position in order to protect their investments.

When selling a property, financial institutions rely on real estate lawyers to ensure that any outstanding mortgages on title are paid off on closing day and that their interest is discharged off title.

Contact Us Today For a Free No-Obligations Quote

Hiring a real estate lawyer ensures that all parties are protected.  Lawyers use their experience to provide appropriate services to each party involved.  Feel safe and secure with all your real estate needs with Safi Law Group and contact us today by calling (780) 760-7234 or utilizing our Contact Us page for a free no-obligation quote! We look forward to working with you in the future.