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What does a Real Estate Lawyer do?

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Do you need a lawyer for a Real Estate transaction in Ontario? The answer is yes. Professional advice in closing the purchase of your dream home is vital to protect your investment.


Purchasing a house is a significant investment, and it is probably going to be the most costly investment individuals will ever make. Therefore, seeking legal counsel from a professional in real estate law is important.


Additionally, in sophisticated commercial real estate deals, the involvement of an adept real estate attorney is crucial in streamlining the process and freeing up time for other essential matters.


Real estate lawyers are responsible for examining all legal documents and matters pertaining to a transaction. This includes a detailed look at the Agreement of Purchase and Sale for legal compliance, ensuring that property taxes are current, and checking for any claims or liens on the property. Additionally, they validate the property's legal title, calculate the land transfer tax payable on closing, and consider other tax implications. In the event of any litigation related to the transaction, an experienced real estate attorney can offer guidance.


In the case of purchasing a condo, it is crucial to review the Status Certificate, which discloses the condo's reserve fund's financial status. This information is significant as it can help determine if there is a potential for a large one-time special assessment fee to enhance the reserves for any necessary future repairs or renovations.


In the past, completing a real estate deal required lawyers to conduct title searches by visiting a Land Registry Office (LRO). On the day of closing, representatives from both parties would convene at the LRO to exchange papers and keys and officially record the transfer. Nowadays, with the advent of digital registration, title searches and land transfers are done using specialized software. Access to this software is limited to legal professionals and firms, and a lawyer's signature is still required for the land transfer, despite the shift to electronic registration.


The cost of hiring a real estate lawyer depends on the type of transaction, whether buying or selling a property, and the level of complexity involved. Lawyers typically offer a fixed fee for their services, exclusive of HST, disbursements, title insurance, and land transfer tax. Additionally, lawyers may charge a separate fee for registering or discharging a mortgage on behalf of their clients.


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