First and foremost, the Province of Ontario dictates that a real estate transaction (sale or purchase, residential or commercial) must be closed by a lawyer. Some provinces allow for a notary public to do this but not in Ontario and in my opinion, this is for good reason.
There are a number of legalities involved in all real estate transactions and as such, sound legal representation is crucial. Quite simply put: your lawyer will protect your rights. Most real estate transactions run smoothly but should there be any glitches that could potentially delay the closing, an experienced real estate lawyer will know how to mitigate this.
Your lawyer will charge you a flat fee for their service in addition to land transfer tax if you are a Buyer and disbursements. This fee is sometimes dependent on the purchase price of the property. The best lawyer may not be the least expensive but his/her expertise will save you money in the long run.
You want to make sure that your lawyer is one you feel comfortable with and who has come highly recommended by your Realtor. Your Realtor will be able to give you several recommendations. Something else to consider is where your lawyer is located. You could receive a referral to an excellent lawyer in Mississauga but if your home is in downtown Toronto, it might be rather inconvenient from a time perspective as you’ll need to meet your lawyer at least twice. Especially important is on the day of closing, whereby you’ll be going to pick up the keys from your lawyers office.
Before the Offer is Signed
Having an experienced Realtor with a good working relationship with one or more lawyers is most beneficial to you. In protecting a Buyer’s interests it is sometimes necessary for your Realtor to confer with a lawyer prior to writing an offer should there be any specifics or legalities that might affect the transaction and/or your decision to Buy.
However, an experienced agent will know which clauses to write into an offer and it generally isn’t necessary for you to have your lawyer review a standard Agreement prior to signing it. In fact, it is probably a waste of your money. If there are highly technical legal issues as in many commercial transactions there might be a condition written into the offer which will allow for the lawyer to review the offer after it has been accepted and should he/she have concerns this condition will allow for you to not follow through with the transaction.
After the Agreement is Accepted
- Detail exact closing costs. Most of these you will have already anticipated and estimated.
- Search title.
- Search taxes, utilities, building and zoning or order title insurance.
- Execution search.
- Mortgages and other financing arrangements.
- Verify insurance policy documentation.
- Calculate land transfer tax.
- Requisition letter to seller (requesting resolution of any problems found in searches).
A Few Days Before Closing
- Address any Provincial Sales Tax Issues.
- Prepare mortgage documentation.
- Prepare statement of adjustments.
- Prepare documentation for land registry.
- Accept closing funds from buyer.
- Review and have buyer sign necessary documentation.
On Closing Day
- With mortgagee will exchange documentation for money.
- Meet with vendor’s lawyer at registry office.
- Complete final searches.
- Transfer fends.
- Register deed and mortgage in buyer’s name.
- Pay land transfer tax.
- Obtain keys from Seller’s lawyer.
- Send you a reporting letter certifying your title together with the deed, survey and all other related documentation.
- Invoice you for services rendered.