Do You Need a Lawyer to Buy or Sell a House in Alberta?
Major life events typically involve a team. Planning a wedding, for example, or having a baby involves more than just you. You surround yourself with qualified individuals to guide you through the process. And so it is with buying or selling a house in Alberta.
There’s a lot more involved in a house sale or purchase than simply finding the perfect place or buyer. Parts of this major life event are best handled by professionals, such as legal transactions, documents, and insurance.
Here’s what you need to know about involving a lawyer in your home purchase or sale.
The difference between real estate agents and real estate lawyers
A real estate lawyer is not a real estate agent, nor is a real estate agent a real estate lawyer. Both are beneficial in the buying and selling of a house, but they each have different roles in the process.
In addition to matching buyers with the right houses, real estate agents can take care of negotiations, home inspections, and sale documents. They keep the process running smoothly.
Real estate lawyers review documents and handle legal transactions. They can also help with titles, contracts, and insurance. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of involving a real estate lawyer in your home purchase or sale.
What can your real estate lawyer do for you?
A real estate lawyer will always protect their clients’ interests. They’ll ensure the transfer of the property from the seller to the buyer is legally enforceable and binding, and that you’re not falling into any unseen legal traps. And they can also review and explain everything to you in layman’s terms so you’re fully aware of everything you’re signing and clearly understand each step of the process.
Generally speaking, your real estate lawyer will make sure that the home sale transaction is legally sound and that your rights are protected.
You can also turn to a real estate lawyer for legal advice on things like:
- Property management & disputes;
- Real estate restrictions & covenants;
- Trespassing or injuries related to the property;
- Property taxes; and
- Value estimates.
The knowledge and experience of a real estate lawyer serves to keep a real estate transaction going smoothly. They can review your purchase agreement to ensure it’s in keeping with your best interests. Your lawyer can also draft and revise documents and answer questions you may have about:
- Inspections; and
- Any other legal documents.
Part of the real estate lawyer’s job is to arrange for title insurance (which is different from home insurance) and to ensure the sale closes on time and according to the details in the contract. The closing transaction will happen through your lawyer. This involves the transfer of funds and keys to the property.
Very briefly, the main activities of a real estate lawyer include:
- Drawing up documents;
- Negotiate deals;
- Review sales transactions;
- Engage in litigation (when a transaction doesn’t work out); and
- Handle foreclosure proceedings.
If You’re Selling Your Home
Especially if you have a mortgage, your real estate lawyer is absolutely essential to the successful sale of your home. This is because a buyer’s lawyer will refuse to send you the funds for the sale and the title transfer directly because that would require that they trust you to pay out your existing mortgage. But they don’t have any assurance that you’ll do so. Your real estate lawyer will make the transaction possible.
Here are the specifics of the role of the real estate lawyer for clients who are selling their home.
- Assist in negotiating terms and preparing the purchase contract
- Prepare sale documents including the deed and transfer of land, statement of adjustments for property taxes, and more
- Review all documents with you before you sign them
- Order the necessary property title searches
- Handle the transaction closing including receipt of the sale proceeds, required payouts, and providing the net proceeds to you
- Exchange legal documents and property keys with the buyer’s lawyer
If You’re Buying a Home
Especially if you require a mortgage to purchase a new home, you will need a real estate lawyer because lenders require it.
Here are the specifics of the role of the real estate lawyer for clients who are buying a home.
- Review and explain the legal documentation to you
- Ensure there are no claims listed against the property, that property taxes are up-to-date, and that you have a valid title upon closing
- Arrange for title insurance
- Calculate the land transfer tax due on closing
- Draw up the mortgage documents
- Take care of the closing transaction including the transfer of funds and property keys
When is it time to involve a real estate lawyer?
Your real estate lawyer becomes essential for the transfer of funds, the title search, and to register the transfer. Most people think of the lawyer’s role as strictly tying up the loose ends. But there are plenty of reasons not to wait till the last minute to get your lawyer involved in the home buying or selling process.
Whenever real estate demand is high, the pressure to sign a purchase agreement increases. Your real estate lawyer can relieve some of the pressure and pinpoint potential red flags early in the process. Having the lawyer on your team can set your mind at ease; you’ll rest assured the sale won’t happen unless it’s in your best interests.
The best time to involve a real estate lawyer is the moment you become serious about a real estate sale or purchase.
Real Estate Lawyers in Calgary, Alberta
Are you buying a house in Calgary, Alberta? Are you thinking of selling your Calgary, Alberta home? The real estate lawyers at Osuji & Smith are here to help you every step of the way. Let us work on your behalf to ensure the entire transaction is legally sound and in your best interests.