When you think about buying a new home, hiring a real estate lawyer probably isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind. But it’s something you’ll inevitably need to do. You may be wondering at what stage you need a lawyer, how much it will cost, and more. We’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out the answers to our most frequently asked questions about real estate law.
Why do I need a real estate lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer isn’t usually top of mind when you are looking to buy, sell, or refinance a home. But in most cases, you’ll need a lawyer to seal the deal. A real estate lawyer will take care of the legal work and make sure everything is above board which includes:
- Reviewing all legal documents, such as the Purchase and Sale Agreement and, in the case of a condo purchase, the Estoppel Certificate.
- Making sure that property taxes are up-to-date and that no claims are listed against the property.
- Holding funds in a trust account until all the terms and conditions are satisfied.
- Ensuring that there is a valid title and the seller’s mortgage (if applicable) will be paid out and taken off the title.
How do I choose a real estate lawyer?
Finding a good real estate lawyer, especially one who doesn’t give you a lengthy to-do list, can make all the difference during an already busy time in your life. We want to eliminate some of the guesswork by taking a moment to highlight some of the key things you should look for in a lawyer who specializes in real estate law.
First and foremost, it’s important to choose a lawyer with experience in real estate law. While your friend who practices corporate law might be an excellent lawyer, that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the ins and outs of real estate law. It is also a good idea to find a real estate lawyer that is upfront about their fees, so there aren’t any surprises down the road. You can always book an initial consultation with a lawyer to find out if they are experienced, trustworthy, and a good fit for you.
What questions should I ask a real estate lawyer?
- How long have they been practicing real estate law?
- Are they knowledgeable in Alberta real estate law? (The laws vary between provinces, so it’s best to find a real estate lawyer with more area-specific knowledge.)
- Do they bill by the hour or offer a flat rate for their services? What other costs are involved?
- These are just a few ideas to get you started— don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something and be sure to ask lots of questions. It’s also worth checking out the firm’s reviews online to see what others have to say.
- Do I get a free consultation with a real estate lawyer?
Our clients often ask us whether we offer free consultations, and the answer is always yes. Although real estate legal services don’t usually require an initial consult, we can always meet with you if you’d prefer to chat with us first. At your initial consultation with Litco Law, you will meet with a real estate lawyer (and potentially other members of our legal team) to address your personal legal questions. You’ll never feel rushed because our lawyers always prioritize you. If you do choose to work with us, our legal team will take care of all the things associated with purchasing, selling, or refinancing a house— like Dower issues, Real Property Reports (RPR), municipal compliance, title transfers, holdbacks, and high-quality legal advice.
What if I don’t want to hire the lawyer after the free consultation?
Don’t worry! We offer free consultations with zero obligation. That means you can meet with a lawyer, but you don’t have to hire them. Litco Law understands that some clients like to explore their options, and we fully encourage you to do your research and find the best fit for you.
How much will a real estate lawyer cost me?
We get it. Hiring a real estate lawyer can seem like a costly inconvenience during an already busy time in your life. The price of real estate legal services can vary, but at Litco Law, we offer transparent pricing (and free consults if you have questions). Take a look at our pricing page for an overview of what we charge for real estate legal services.
How can I best prepare for buying a home?
If you plan on hiring Litco Law, you will need to meet with us either virtually or in person to sign documents and provide the balance of your down payment at least three to five days before the possession date.
How can I best prepare for selling a home?
Make sure you have an up-to-date Real Property Report before your property is sold and that your residency status for income tax purposes is sorted out long before you sell.
If you are selling as a non-resident of Canada, we recommend you speak with an accountant early in the process in order to avoid potential closing delays and holdbacks of the sale proceeds.
Have questions about buying, selling, or refinancing a home in Alberta? It won’t cost you anything to speak with one of our real estate lawyers. Just give us a call or fill out our contact form online, and we’ll reach out to you.