While everyone strives for a straight forward experience when buying or selling property, the nature of real estate, which involves negotiation and quick decisions, can lead to some sleepless nights. The Real Estate Law team at Simard & Associates can ease your mind about legal issues your real estate agent may not be able to answer with 100% accuracy.
We understand real estate laws in the Province of Ontario and have been helping clients purchase and sell property for more than two decades. We’ve compiled answers to common concerns and questions about real estate transactions. Click on your question area below for more information.
Agreement of Purchase and Sale
1. Should I consult a lawyer prior to signing an Agreement of Purchase and Sale?
You have the option to add a clause in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale, which makes your offer conditional upon your lawyer’s review and satisfaction of the contents of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. This review allows the Purchaser and/or Vendor to have a thorough understanding of the terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale as well as an opportunity to obtain legal advice on the terms therein and make any necessary changes based on the legal advice received. This also provides both a Purchaser and Vendor with peace of mind knowing that they are not being taken in and that their lawyer will protect them by suggesting amendments if necessary.
2. Can both the Vendor and Purchaser have the same lawyer?
In the Province of Ontario, most parties to an Agreement of Purchase and Sale will have their own lawyers. It may however occur that both parties wish to have the same lawyer act on their behalf. The lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct now require that the same lawyer cannot act for both parties except for a few, very limited, circumstances. Two separate lawyers from the same firm are authorized to act for both parties to a transaction provided that both are aware of the dual retainer, both acknowledge that no information will be kept confidential as between those parties and should a conflict arise, both lawyers must withdraw from both files.
3. When do I qualify for the Land Transfer Tax rebate?
In Ontario, a first-time home buyer can qualify for the Land Transfer Tax Rebate of up to a maximum of $4,000.00 of the total land transfer tax. There are different factors that determine whether you are a first-time home buyer or not. Some of these factors are very straight forward and others not. A series of questions need to be answered for our office to be able to properly assess a buyer’s eligibility for the Land Transfer Tax Rebate.
4. Does my spouse need to consent to the sale of my property?
If the property being sold is occupied by your and your spouse, consent will only be required if you and your spouse are legally married. If you are in a common law relationship, the person authorized to sell the property is the person who is on title to this property and consent from the common law spouse is not required.
5. Do I need a lawyer to renew my mortgage?
A lawyer is not needed for a renewal should you simply wish to renew. However, a lawyer is generally needed to increase your existing mortgage beyond its original limits and to discharge the former mortgage.
6. Do I need a lawyer to refinance or increase my mortgage?
Yes. Under normal circumstances, a lawyer is required for the completion of a refinance or increase of a mortgage. Although several financial institutions now offer refinancing services, we often encounter situations where we are required to go back and register additional documents to clear title when clients have been to a bank to refinance their mortgage. Nothing replaces a competent real estate lawyer who will take all necessary steps to provide you and your bank with a properly registered mortgage and ensure its timely discharge when required.
7. What is Title Insurance?
Title Insurance allows purchasers to secure an insurance policy to insure against certain risks such as the absence of an up-dated building location survey, encroachments, municipal work orders, zoning violations, property tax arrears etc. Your lawyer can conduct various searches to confirm compliance with the foregoing. However, Title Insurance will often complement and in some cases even replace the need to conduct these searches since coverage is available should a problem ever arise. Your lawyer will explain the advantages of Title Insurance so that you can choose the options which best suit your needs.
8. How much time do you require to complete my transaction?
From the moment an Agreement becomes unconditional (all conditions waived) we prefer to have a minimum of 10 business days. In a sale, our office requires this time to prepare the documents and to secure tax information, the mortgage discharge statements and to generally complete the transaction. In a purchase, our office requires this time to complete the various searches such as the title search, the compliance search, tax searches, sheriff searches and to correspond with the various authorities to ensure that a purchaser will have clear title. Should a title problem be discovered all necessary steps will be taken to correct the problem prior to the completion of the transaction. Additional Fees may be payable if we have less than 10 business days to complete your transaction.
9. What tasks am I responsible for in a purchase?
Upon receipt of your Agreement of Purchase and Sale, a member of our firm will contact you to conduct the intake process and answer your questions. In any given purchase of a home, you must secure the necessary financing to complete the transaction, complete your inspection of the home and satisfy insurance requirements. You will also be asked to arrange payment agreements with the various service providers such as hydro, cable, gas, water and municipal taxes as many of these involve pre-authorized bank withdrawals from your account.
10. What tasks am I responsible for in a sale?
Upon receipt of your Agreement of Purchase and Sale, a member of our firm will contact you to conduct the intake process and answer your questions. In any given sale of a home, you will be asked to give notice to the service providers to your home such as hydro, cable, water, gas and home insurance as of the date of closing and to close these accounts. You will, of course, receive a final account for those services you have received up to the sale of your home.
11. Is a condominium purchase or sale different from the purchase or sale of a home?
There are significant differences in several areas between a regular home purchase and sale and that of a condo. Most of these differences relate to rules, regulations, budgets, reserve funds and statutory requirements that must be complied with in a condominium.
Our team of real estate lawyers with over 25 years of experience in condominium law is there to help you navigate the complexities of a condominium purchase or sale.
While our responses to these frequently asked questions are accurate, each real estate transaction is unique and may have different outcomes. Hiring a lawyer early in the process for your real estate deal can help you avoid legal issues or pitfalls. Get in touch with our Real Estate legal team today to discuss your situation. We’re here to take some of the stress out of buying and selling property.