Why You Need A Real Estate Lawyer When Buying A Home

A Laywer Can HelpCongratulations! Your offer was accepted and you just bought a home! What are your next steps?

 The Status Certificate

If your offer includes conditions, you will likely need to arrange for financing and a home inspection to make sure the property is sound. If you bought a condo, however, you’ll also have to arrange for your lawyer to review the Status Certificate. This document is essentially a snap shot of the condominium corporation and contains information about the unit and the condo corp.

When reviewing the Status Certificate, be sure to answer these questions:

  • Is the reserve fund adequate?
  • Is the condo corporation being sued?
  • Are there any arrears in common expenses?
  • Are there any new special assessments coming up?

Your lawyer reviews all the documents and goes through the points you need to know before you sign off on this condition. Once you sign all the waivers with your realtor the deal becomes firm.

 The Property Search

The next step involves your lawyer doing searches on the property. In some cases tax certificates and compliance searches are conducted to check whether there are any arrears or work orders outstanding on the property. The title will also be searched by your lawyer to ensure certain aspects are removed by the vendor prior to closing, such as:

  • Are there old mortgages from prior owners to be removed?
  • Any liens that have to be paid out?
  • Any easements affecting the property?

 Drafting the Mortgage

Your lender will have your lawyer draft and prepare your mortgage before closing and will send your mortgage money directly to your lawyer when that happens. If your mortgage is CMHC-insured then that payment, including PST, is taken off the top and your lawyer gets the balance from your lender.

 Take Advantage of Rebates

This is also the time to explore whether you could benefit from any government-provided programs or rebates. For example, if you’re a first time home owner, you might be entitled to an instant land transfer tax rebate. In order to get the rebate you must never have owned residential property anywhere in the world or have been the spouse of anyone who has owned residential property during the course of your marriage to them. First timers are also entitled to a rebate of up to $2000 from the province and $3725 from the city of Toronto if your property is located within city limits.

 Arranging For Insurance

Prior to closing, your lawyer will likely arrange a title insurance policy on your behalf and behalf of your lender. Title insurance is a one-time payment and essentially protects your title for as long as you own your property against any fraud, or acts or omissions by third parties that could affect your title – for example, if the previous owner didn’t remit their property taxes or if someone tries to steal your identity and register a new mortgage on your property.  You should arrange for property insurance and have your insurance company send confirmation to your lawyer.

 Pre-Closing Paperwork

This will warrant a trip to your lawyer’s office in order to sign up all the closing documents. Remember to bring a draft representing your remaining down payment, land transfer tax and legal fees and disbursements.

Keys are typically available for pick up at your lawyer’s office in the afternoon on the day of closing… So make sure you don’t schedule the movers until after 5:00pm!


The property is now yours – shortly after closing your lawyer will send you a closing package that has all your documents in it.  I always tell my clients to not forget to open the package since there might be a cheque in there for unused disbursements.

Step one of home ownership?  Don’t forget to change the locks!

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only as a quick description of the highlights of a property transfer and does not constitute legal advice and does not establish a lawyer – client relationship. If you need assistance with a home purchase or have any questions please contact your lawyer.

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