Make Sure You’re on Solid Ground
Investing in a home is often the largest purchase we ever make, so it’s important to ensure that expensive—and preventable—legal issues don’t arise.
Here are some of the real estate services we can offer to help minimize risk and ensure a smooth transaction when buying or selling your home or other residential property.
Legal services for most residential real estate transactions are charged on a “flat fee” basis. We provide full written estimates, so you will know, in advance, exactly what the costs will be.
Services for Buyers
- Preparing or reviewing the purchase agreement
- Executing a title search—making sure the seller has the legal ownership and has the right to transfer that ownership; determining and explaining to you exactly what you are buying
- Ensuring property taxes are not in arrears
- Checking for liens against the property
- Reviewing and executing mortgage instructions
- Advising the client regarding insurance requirements
- Where appropriate (e.g., rural properties), advising the client about issues relating to the well/drinking water and septic system
- Where appropriate, providing advice on Tarion warranties and claim periods
- Reviewing and auditing the statement of adjustments (i.e., the document that sets out any items that need to be added or subtracted from the purchase price, such the deposit paid, real estate agent fees, property taxes and utilities adjustments)
- Performing other due diligence as needed, such as arranging for title insurance and letting you know what options you have
Services for Sellers
- Preparing or reviewing the sales agreement
- Making sure your legal and financial interests are protected, for example, if the sale does not go forward as planned
- Obtaining copies of the necessary legal documents and reviewing them to ensure you do not promise too much to the buyer
- Calculating the total amount the buyer owes you (including tax and utility adjustments)
- answering questions from the buyer or their lawyer regarding the property title
- Clearing up any title issues that need to be dealt with to move the sale to a proper close to get the money to the seller
- Ensuring all requirements for closing are met
- Ensuring timely delivery of all the money owed to you upon the sale of your property
Frequently Asked Questions
The legal fees and disbursements of any given real estate transaction vary depending on the type of transaction and all the elements involved in the transaction.
Before you hire us, we will provide you with a detailed quotation estimating all of the fees and disbursements so that you know exactly what you will have to pay on closing day. For residential real estate transactions, we provide a flat fee once we have determined the services you require.
We have separate quote sheets for sales, purchases, refinances or miscellaneous transactions that set out the different types of costs that go along with the related transaction. We do not charge for preliminary discussions and questions.
Every buyer should have fire and hazard insurance on their home and contents. (Or just contents, in the case of a condominium purchase.)
If you require a mortgage, the mortgage company will require you to insure the property. In some cases, the mortgage provider even requires the insurance company to guarantee replacement of the home.
In that event, the mortgage company is named as the payee on the insurance policy. Before closing date, this must be demonstrated by an insurance “binder letter,” which is something we can take care of for you.
We cannot stress enough how important home insurance is. We have worked with hundreds of insurers over the years and would be pleased to recommend one appropriate to your needs.
Title insurance protects the purchaser and mortgagee from fraudulent claims against the title (ownership) of the property. Title insurance eliminates the need for you to pay a lawyer to undertake extensive inquiries regarding most building, zoning and municipal utility compliance matters—saving you hundreds of dollars in search expenses. Most lenders require title insurance, even on refinance transactions. AGBL will not undertake a purchase transaction without title insurance.
To protect the land registry system from title fraud, the Law Society of Upper Canada requires that all prospective real estate clients provide contact information (name, address and date of birth), two pieces of ID (including one photo ID), the agreement of purchase and sale and, at the end of the transaction, a copy of all waivers (fulfillments of conditions).
We will gather together this information, including the details of the specific transaction involved. Once we have all of this information, we will provide you with a list of the documents and items you will need to provide to AGBL.
Realtors add value for buyers and sellers in most real estate transactions. As we have worked with hundreds of agents and companies over the years, we would be pleased to recommend an appropriate realtor best suited to your particular needs.
If you do not wish to use a realtor, AGBL can assist you to prepare and negotiate a private purchase and sale agreement.
The Land Transfer Tax refund is for first-time homebuyers, that is, a buyer who has never owned any type or piece of property anywhere in the world at any time.
The LTT rebate allows for a one-time rebate of up to $4,000. This rebate happens instantly upon registration of the transfer. This means you do not have to pay first and get reimbursed later—the purchaser simply does not pay the amount of the rebate on closing. The LTT refund works on a proportioned basis. For example, if two people purchase a home together but only one person is a first-time buyer, the rebate will be $2,000.
I am buying a property jointly with another person. What do I need to think about when deciding who holds the title?
This is a very important question. How title to property is held has a direct impact on estate planning and disposition of property upon the death of a titleholder. Joint ownership can be used to reduce probate tax on death but is not appropriate in every circumstance.
At AGBL, we devote a considerable portion of our practice to will and estate planning. Advice on who should hold the title is provided as part of every residential real estate transaction we handle on behalf of our clients—there is no additional fee.
Family law in Ontario is complicated and can reach into all aspects of a person’s life—often with unanticipated consequences. At AGBL, we have a significant focus on family law, which means that all of our real estate clients are provided with some basic advice about how family-related laws could impact their transactions. This advice is part of our normal real estate legal services—there are no additional fees.
We recommend that all purchasers consider protecting themselves with at least a basic inspection. It is relatively inexpensive and is part of the due diligence that every purchaser should undertake. We would be pleased to recommend an appropriate inspector suited to your particular needs. In many cases, we recommend more than one inspection. Ask us why.
As a full-service firm, the most important thing that distinguishes AGBL is the fact we take all the time a client needs (in fact we insist on it). We review the transaction from all angles, including estate planning, family law, and the extent to which the purchase or sale may affect a client’s corporate or business interests.
We ensure clients get a full report and documentation on all matters that affect their land. At every step, our focus is ensuring you know everything you should know about the property by the time of closing.