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Buying or selling a home is an event many Hatters will experience in their lifetime. Your home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Because every buyer or seller wants to make sure they get their house or their money, depending on whether they are buying or selling, it is important to understand the value your lawyer provides you in protecting your investment and your money. This article addresses some of the main responsibilities of a lawyer, behind the scenes of your house purchase or sale.
Many people do not meet with their lawyer until shortly before they buy or sell their house. We are often the last member of your real estate team you meet with to sign all the legal documents required to complete your deal. Clients are often surprised by the amount of paperwork in a purchase or sale deal and this can feel overwhelming. Real estate is an area of law struggling to go green. It can feel like you are signing your life away. Don’t panic – it’s our job as your lawyer, to make sure you understand everything you sign and clearly understand how your purchase or sale will work.
Here are just a few ways lawyers bring value to clients in real estate transactions:
1. Review the contract
Your lawyer will not usually see your real estate Offer to Purchase and Interim Agreement until your realtor sends the signed copy to us. This usually means the conditions on your deal have been fulfilled and your deal is ready to proceed. After we receive your accepted Offer to Purchase, we review it, note the conditions and examine the key terms.
At Pritchard & Co Law Firm, LLP we often recommend our clients have us review the initial Offer to Purchase before signing. We want clients to understand their rights, obligations and liabilities under the contract. This is especially true where realtors are not involved. We may be able to spot potential issues and propose options for dealing with or minimizing them in advance. Not all real estate deals are straightforward and lawyers can assist with some preventative measures to ensure your transaction goes smoothly.
2. Examine title to the property
It is our job to make sure the title to your property is properly transferred to you. Whether you are selling or buying, there can be surprises on title, which may impact your transaction. Restrictive covenants, easements and liens are common encumbrances found on title. We can also help protect you against mortgage and title fraud. These are important issues to discuss with your lawyer when you meet.
3. Prepare financing documents
Many people who buy a home do so with the help of a mortgage. We receive instructions from the bank lending you the money to pay for part of your house and your bank’s instructions will depend on the type, amount and term of your mortgage. Your lawyer is responsible for preparing and registering the mortgage documents. Bank documents are often written in their own language and can be confusing (not that lawyers can judge) and our job is to make sure you understand the terms of your mortgage, including
- how and when interest is calculated;
- prepayment privileges;
- ownership obligations; and
- CMHC obligations, if any.
As lawyers, it is our job to make sure you understand the process and what to expect during your transaction so you feel in control. We understand the importance of your investment whether you are buying, selling, or refinancing. We want you to feel a part of the process and know you and your investment are well protected.