For the most part, home buyers bring on a realtor when they are looking to find a new home. But connecting with a real estate lawyer before the deal is done is important, too.
Most buyers understand that once they sign the purchase agreement, a real estate lawyer can be retained to perform a title search, register the deed and transfer the funds. However, there are good reasons to bring a lawyer into the buying process even before the agreement is signed. Here are three:
Protect your rights
A real estate lawyer will review the purchase agreement before you sign, along with any other paperwork, to make sure your legal rights are protected. They could, for example, reword conditional clauses from “conditional on financing” to “conditional on financing the buyer prefers.” This small change will allow you to opt out of the deal should you not get the mortgage rate that will work for your budget.
It is especially important for a real estate lawyer to review purchase agreements for new homes and condominiums that are bought before they are built. In reviewing these 30-to-50 page documents, an experienced real estate lawyer can spot any unusual clauses and offer advice that can better protect your rights.
Once you sign on the dotted line, each home buyer hopes for a quick, uneventful process through to the closing date.
Save you time and money
Once you sign on the dotted line, each home buyer hopes for a quick, uneventful process through to the closing date. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. In these situations, you’ll want an experienced real estate lawyer who can guide you through any issues that may arise between you and the seller or the builder.
Here’s an example: a few short days before your closing, the seller sends you a request to pay for repairs caused by the previous week’s rainstorm. A real estate lawyer can explain to you and the seller whether you have an obligation to pay.
Bringing a real estate lawyer into the buying process earlier can also help you learn more about the property you are intending to purchase. For example, Amy and her partner, Ben, (not their real names) recently purchased a home in a small suburb outside of Toronto, just two years after it was constructed. They did not consult a lawyer before signing the purchase agreement and, as a result, didn’t know that the previous owners had not paid their property taxes for the full year prior to the sale. Amy and Ben weren’t responsible for the payments, but the issue stalled their closing date by several months. Had they hired a real estate lawyer before signing the agreement, they could have avoided the stress and uncertainty they experienced as they waited to secure a closing date for their newly purchased home.
Set you up for success
Purchasing a home is a significant investment – the biggest many Ontarians will make in their lifetime. However, the purchase price of the home is just one of the costs included in buying a new home. As your counsel, your real estate lawyer will provide you with a summary of the expected costs associated with closing on your new house — everything from your pro-rata share of property taxes, title search fees and other miscellaneous costs that you may not have previously considered in your budget.
In short, a real estate lawyer can bring you peace of mind throughout the purchase process. But be sure to hire a lawyer who specializes in real estate law and has the experience with the type of purchase you’re looking to make.