What exactly does a real estate lawyer do?

August 10, 2011

Law Day

You speak with some realtors and find one you like. You interview some mortgage brokers and find one you like. You look at many homes, find one you love, make an offer, do your inspection, drop the paperwork off at the lawyer’s – and then wait for the lawyer to call the week before you close to come in and sign everything.

For most people, what a real estate lawyer actually does can be pretty mysterious. If your deal is going smoothly, we will barely need to be in touch with you until you come in to sign. Even if there are bumps, we can usually work them out with a few calls to your realtor, mortgage broker or the other lawyer.

What we do can be broken down into a few main parts.

1. Certification of title if you’re buying, or responding to title issues if you’re selling. This is one of the most important things I do as a buyer’s lawyer, because you want to know what you’re buying with the bricks and mortar. For example, there may be restrictions on whether you can have a clothesline or build a fence, or your neighbour may have an access easement over your lot. You will always want to know what’s there before you buy.

2: Communication with your lender (if you’re buying) and the other lawyer.

3: Preparation of documents. This will be the majority of what you see – there will be a stack of documents that you will need to sign (and you will eventually get a copy of everything).

4: Registration of the mortgage and transfer if you’re buying, and of the discharge of your old mortgage if you’re selling. Registration is the moment when the house becomes yours, or stops being yours. If you are selling, your old mortgage will have to be taken off title within a reasonable time after closing.

I will be expanding on most of these points over the next several weeks.

Basically, what I do for my clients is help them to buy what they think they’re buying, without anything they don’t want to take on, or to sell their homes with as little fuss as possible so that they can move into their new life.

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About Cesia

Cesia is a real estate lawyer at Wall-Armstrong and Green, a boutique law firm in Barrie focusing on real estate and estates. When she's not online, she can usually be found in her garden.

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