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  • Girvin Devitt

Why you should have legal representation in real estate transactions


Buying a home can be the single most expensive, and emotional transaction that you make in your life. Whether it be your first home, forever home, or investment property, our extensive experience in real estate law ensures that your new most valuable asset is protected throughout the process. From purchase agreement to closing, we help you through every step of the transaction so you can focus on other things that matter - like packing!

For many finding a real estate lawyer can almost be an afterthought – somebody to handle the paperwork after the Agreement of Purchase and Sale has been signed. We encourage our clients to let us review the agreement of purchase and sale before signing so we can identify possible issues that could interfere with the buying or selling process.

A house, condo, or rural property is a big investment of time and money. We can advise you on different issues and questions that should be considered depending upon which type of property you are purchasing, including but not limited to:

  • What does the condo’s status certificate tell me to expect?

  • Is the property subject to rights-of-way, easements, mutual driveways, parking pads, common lanes, surveys, land leases, or air traffic flight paths?

  • I am buying the property with someone else. What does it mean to be “tenants in common” or “joint tenants”?

  • Is the title free and clear? Is the survey acceptable? Should I get title insurance?

  • What costs should I expect (for example, adjustments, land transfer taxes, mortgage, property taxes, CMHC insurance)?

If you have specific questions or concerns, we can advise you regarding the best approach for dealing with these issues, either by providing you with the information, or by providing you with the correct resource in order for you to obtain the information you need.

What do we do during a purchase transaction?

  • Review of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and Status Certificate (where applicable) and note any deadlines to ensure the deal proceeds as scheduled.

  • Conduct and review the title search.

  • Request other required searches; tax arrears, common expenses, zoning, work orders, etc.

  • Obtain information regarding satisfaction of conditions/deliverables (i.e. invoices to show repair work completed, clean water test obtained, septic permit).

  • Prepare and send requisition letter on or before the requisition date.

  • Request and obtain title insurance or provide an opinion on title.

  • Review draft Transfer as prepared by the solicitor for the sellers and complete necessary information.

  • Prepare draft Charge as instructed by Lender for review and execution by client.

  • Attend with client for review and execution of closing documents and obtain remaining closing funds from client.

  • Receive mortgage funds and rest of closing funds in trust.

  • Review Statement of Adjustments and prepare certified funds for sellers as directed by their lawyer and in keeping with the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

  • Receive keys and sellers’ closing documents.

  • Register Transfer and Charge once released by sellers’ lawyer.

  • Deliver keys to purchaser upon registration of documents.

  • Report to clients.

  • Report to Lender.

  • Advise municipality of change in ownership.

  • Follow-up with lawyer for sellers to ensure that discharge of previous charge has been registered.


Selling property is more complicated than it may seem. In order to complete the sale of property, the Seller of property has to assure the Purchaser of the property that he/she can transfer good title to the property he/she is selling.

The Purchaser’s lawyer will ask your lawyer certain specific questions about the property that is being sold to their client and expects your lawyer to provide satisfactory responses and documentation in order to satisfy the Purchaser’s lawyer that their client is obtaining clear title to the property.

You should get your lawyer involved as soon as possible in the process. Ideally, you should consult a lawyer before you sign an agreement of purchase and sale. Your lawyer can advise you of how to deal with any issues that arise beyond the standard form and the usual conditions as to an inspection, mortgage financing, and arranging insurance.

Legal issues can be often be avoided by obtaining legal advice from a lawyer early on in the process of selling your home.

What do we do during a sale transaction?

Review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and note any deadlines to ensure the transaction proceeds as scheduled.

Obtain and review parcel register and other documents on title as necessary.

Obtain property tax information from client or from municipality.

Receive, review and respond to requisitions, which might include following up with clients about things the clients are supposed to look after before closing.

Provide an undertaking to the buyers and their lawyer to pay out existing encumbrances (as provided for and agreed to in the typical Agreement of Purchase and Sale).

Obtain mortgage pay out statement if there is a mortgage.

Prepare draft Transfer for review and completion by sellers’ lawyer.

Attend with the clients for review and execution of closing documents and obtain keys from clients to be held until closing.

Prepare and deliver Statement of Adjustments to the lawyer for the buyers.

Deliver closing package to the lawyer for the buyers, including keys.

Receive closing funds in trust.

Release the Transfer to the lawyer for the purchasers for registration.

Attend to payment of existing Charge so as to discharge the existing Charge (or mortgage) as well as of any other liens or encumbrances.

Prepare payment for and deliver payment of real estate commissions owed. Pay out closing proceeds as directed by the clients.

Report to client.

Attend to or ensure discharge of existing mortgage is registered.

As you can see, there is a great deal that goes on behind the scenes when buying or selling property. Our job is to assist you throughout it all, translating tasks into easy to understand terms, and making sure that you are happy with the end result of your real estate transaction.

Please contact us as soon as you decide that you are going to either buy or sell a property and we will be happy to work through the process with you.


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