Whether you’re considering a move to the newer developments around Eglinton and Winston Churchill, an older, tucked away neighborhood in Lorne Park, or the condo towers around vibrant Celebration Square, you really can’t go wrong buying property in Mississauga.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer or moving in from outside of Ontario and want to know if you need to hire a real estate lawyer in Mississauga, the answer is yes. Both buyers and sellers of real estate in Ontario are legally required to be represented by a lawyer to finalize the transaction. This helps protect consumers and homeowners and makes for accurate and efficient transfers of property.
As you can imagine, real estate transactions are complex and time-consuming. They require thorough research of the property being sold, negotiating and drafting legally binding contracts, working out the financials and so much more. Keep reading for more information on what lawyers do for both buyers and sellers of real estate in Mississauga and the rest of Ontario.
What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do for Buyers?
Real estate lawyers sometimes collaborate with the Buyer and Buyer’s agent to negotiate and draft an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, but if they don’t, the Buyer’s agent will typically forward a copy of it to them. Either way, once it’s signed, the Buyer’s lawyer does a title search on the property to ensure a clear title can be given to the Buyer.
The title search confirms the name of the officially registered owners and the legal description of the property. It will also show any claims or charges registered against the property, such as mortgages, construction liens or judgements that can inhibit the transfer of title. A title search will also show any restrictions, easements or rights of way.
Other tasks a buyer’s real estate lawyer will complete before the closing date include:
- Reviewing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and any other documents sent by the Seller’s lawyer.
- Reviewing condo documents with the Buyer such as disclosure statements, bylaws and financial statements on condo sales.
- Advising the Buyer on their obligations and deadlines.
- Reviewing the property’s survey and ensuring it isn’t in violation of any zoning bylaws.
- Checking the status of the Seller’s mortgage, ensuring that outstanding utility bills and property taxes have been paid.
- Confirming that the necessary insurance coverages are in place.
- Transferring mortgage funds to their trust account.
- Preparing documents that will be filed at the land registry office on the closing date.
The Buyer’s lawyer will also draft a Statement of Adjustments that lists all the recurring expenses like property taxes, municipal water bills, condo fees, etc., that the Buyer will assume after the closing date. Every expense is recorded so that the Seller can be reimbursed for bills they prepaid and the Buyer for expenses they pay that cover any time before they take possession.
On the closing date, or completion date, the Buyer’s lawyer will search the title again to confirm there weren’t any last-minute claims, release the funds from their trust account to the Seller’s lawyer, receive confirmation from the Seller’s lawyer that the transaction is complete and take possession of the keys to the property. The Buyer’s lawyer will then pay land transfer and sales taxes and any other outstanding expenses from the Buyer’s funds held in the trust account.
What Do Real Estate Lawyers Do for Sellers?
A real estate lawyer acting for the Seller can also assist the Seller’s real estate agent with drafting the Agreement of Purchase and Sale or otherwise reviewing it with their client. If the title search reveals any claims against title, the Seller’s lawyer will agree to pay them from the proceeds of the sale. The Seller’s lawyer is also responsible for providing solutions if an undisclosed easement is discovered that causes an issue for the buyer.
The lawyer representing the Seller will check all outstanding debt on the property and Prepare a Seller’s Direction that guarantees to pay all outstanding debts and taxes from the proceeds of the sale. Before the closing, the Seller’s lawyer will receive the proposed Statement of Adjustments from the Buyer’s lawyer and confirm the accounts listed.
On closing day, the Seller’s lawyer will pay all outstanding debts as soon as they receive the funds owed to the Seller from the Buyer’s lawyer. That way the title is clear for the Buyer to take possession of it. Once the transaction is complete, the Seller’s lawyer will send a letter of confirmation to the Buyer’s lawyer along with the keys to the property.
Both the Buyer’s and the Seller’s lawyers will send reporting letters to their clients to confirm that all obligations have been met and attach all the documents and records related to the sale.
There you have it – a quick summary of what a real estate lawyer does and why you need one if you’re buying or selling real estate in Mississauga.
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