A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Greatest Asset


Congratulations!  You’ve found the home of your dreams and your offer has been accepted.  Now is the time to make sure that your house investment is protected by employing the expert services of a Real Estate Lawyer.  A legal professional who has facilitated many real estate transactions can be a valuable advocate in safeguarding against any unforeseen circumstances.  This process will give you piece of mind that you are making an unencumbered purchase.

Initial Discussion (Discovery)

The real estate lawyer will meet with you to discuss the terms of the sale.  He or she should ask lots of questions about the property.  Property features such as if it’s on a ravine, highway or near a body of water, age of the dwelling or is it near any utility installations.  They will want to understand your intentions regarding the dwelling.  And details about the house such as what type of heat it has, the mortgage and insurance policy details.

The real estate lawyer will oversee their responsibilities regarding representing you in the house purchase process.  They will provide a reasonable estimate of the total cost of their service.  They should inform you, the client, of some potential pitfalls that could occur with a home purchase.  This professional will ensure that the transaction adheres to jurisdictional requirements and inform you of any fees or disbursements.

Title Search

The first place that the real estate lawyer will start their investigative process is through a title search.  They will determine that there are not any financial encumbrances such as liens or judgments against the property.  This is about determining if the owner has the legal right to sell the house.  They will be able to complete this much faster than an individual because they have partnerships with the title search companies.

The real estate lawyer should report the results of the title search and due diligence process to inform you, the potential home buyer of any suspicious transfers or discharges and/or any suspicious changes in value.  Should there be any issues arising from the title investigation, they will make suggestions on how to move forward.  They can also negotiate concessions with the seller for any obstacles are in place.  For example, providing recommendations on sources of financing so the seller can satisfy any outstanding claims.   Their professional duty is to provide proof that the title is free and clear for transfer of ownership.

Contracts

The terms of the contract must be thoroughly documented for it to be legally binding.  The real estate lawyer will protect your interests by ensuring that the contract adheres to all provincial legislation.  They will address specific issues that might affect the future of this important investment.  For example, there are two types of ownership when there are multiple buyers such as a couple.  There is joint tenancy where upon the death of one party, their share automatically transfers to the remaining party.  Versus tenancy in common where each party has a distinct and separately transferrable interest.  Once there is a sale, the joint tenancy becomes a tenancy in common.

Additional Protection

Your real estate lawyer will strongly suggest you purchase title insurance, which is an insurance policy that protects you, the homeowner, against challenges to the ownership of your home or problems related to the title of your home.  The policy provides coverage against losses due to title defects, even if the issue existed before you purchased your home.

The likelihood of title fraud is on the rise.  Title Insurance is typically purchased when there are title changes, either with a new owner or a new lender.  It is a pragmatic investment as once the house is mortgage-free, there is a greater risk of title fraud.

A Final Thought

You should feel comfortable with your real estate lawyer and confident that they have your best interests in mind.  The advantage of legal counsel is that they’ve worked through multiple real estate transactions, more than you ever will.  They’ll make your home buying process a worry-free experience and you can begin making plans on how you’ll make your new home your own when you move in.