Residential Real Estate FAQs

Milton & Mississauga Residential Real Estate Lawyers

 

At which point should I engage a real estate lawyer when I’m buying or selling a home?

People tend to wait until an Agreement of Purchase and Sale is signed and legally binding before they think about retaining a lawyer to manage the transaction for them. However, we recommend starting your working relationship with your lawyer before an offer is even made on the property. Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, an experienced real estate lawyer can help to ensure that the Agreement of Purchase and Sale contains specific clauses intended to protect your interests. Further, they will ensure you are fully aware your rights and obligations under the contract before you commit to signing.

 

How does the provincial land transfer tax rebate work, and who is qualified to receive it?

The Ontario Land Transfer Tax Rebate program enables first-time homebuyers to receive a rebate of a portion of the land transfer tax associated with buying their first home. To qualify, a homebuyer must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • They cannot have owned a home or an interest in a home anywhere in the world; and
  • If the buyer has a spouse, their spouse cannot have owned a home or an interest in a home anywhere in world while they were the buyer’s spouse.

The rebate applies to both new construction homes as well as resale properties. The rebate can be claimed instantly by registering the claim at the time of the purchase. The maximum rebate amount is $4,000.00, and the rebate will be reduced if one or more of the buyers do not qualify under the eligibility rules. For example, if you are purchasing the home with another person who does not qualify for the rebate, the maximum rebate amount will be halved, to $2,000.00.

The amount of land transfer tax payable increases along with the value of the property. If you qualify for the full amount of the rebate ($4,000), this means you will not pay land transfer tax on the first $368,000.00 of the home’s costs.

For properties located within Toronto, Municipal Land Transfer Tax is also payable, and there is a similar rebate program available for qualified buyers.

 

What is title insurance, and do I need to purchase it?

Title insurance protects the owner(s) of real property by insuring them against unforeseen defects in the property’s title. The insurance represents a one-time cost added onto your legal fees, however the protection lasts as long as you remain on title to the property.

Title insurance can help cover the costs of fixing title defects including unknown liens against the property, conflicting ownership interests, encroachment issues, and more. Once a defect is discovered, it often must be corrected before the property can be sold. Depending on the nature of the defect, the cost to fix it can be considerable.

In addition to protecting the property owners, it also protects the mortgage lender should a costly issue arise with respect to title. In fact, some lenders will make obtaining title insurance a mandatory condition of the mortgage.

If your lender has not required you to obtain title insurance, it remains an optional part of your closing transaction. However, given the relatively small cost upfront, the peace of mind it will provide often makes purchasing a policy worthwhile.

 

How can I get out of a signed Agreement of Purchase & Sale?

Once an Agreement of Purchase and Sale is signed and no longer subject to conditions, it represents a binding legal contract. If you are unsure about the purchase, we advise you not to sign the Agreement until you’re certain. If a party backs out of a real estate transaction after the contract is in place, they may find themselves labile to the other party for a significant amount of money. For example, if you agree to purchase a home for $1,000,000 and then walk away a month later, the seller may not be able to get the same amount for the house again. If, after making a reasonable effort, they manage to sell the home for $850,000, you could be on the hook to pay the sellers the difference in price.

Similarly, if you are selling a property and back out after the contract is in place, the buyer may not be able to find a similar property for the same value. In those cases, a court is likely to award financial damages against you, in favour of the buyer. In some cases where a property is especially unique, the court may order a remedy called specific performance, whereby you would be ordered to complete your end of the contract as originally planned.

 

What is the difference between joint tenancy and tenants in common?

Joint tenancy and tenants in common are means of taking title to a property. Joint tenancy, commonly used by married couples and common-law spouses, creates joint ownership over 100% of the property. As joint tenants, neither party can sell or mortgage the property without the other party’s consent. Further, joint tenancy creates a right of survivorship if one owner were to pass away. This means that if a couple jointly owns a home and the husband dies, his share of the property would, by right, transfer to his spouse.

Tenants in common, on the other hand, allows multiple parties to each own a specified share of a property. Two people can own a property 50/50, or one person can own 99% of the property while the other owns the remaining 1%. Each party is free to do what they choose with their share of the property. There is also no right of survivorship for tenants in common, allowing each owner to bequeath their share to the beneficiaries of their estate or gift it to others during their lifetime. This type of ownership can be especially helpful for parties looking to purchase an investment property together or families looking to share a recreational property, such as a cottage.

Contact Prudent Law in Mississauga and Milton Your Residential Real Estate Purchase or Sale

The real estate lawyers at Prudent Law are dedicated to ensuring our clients’ interests are protected from the moment they become involved with a transaction. We regularly assist clients with a variety of issues relating to residential real estate matters, including:

  • Purchases
  • Sales
  • Recreational Properties
  • Mortgages & Private Financing
  • Real Estate Litigation

Prudent Law has considerable experience assisting clients with the purchase of residential and recreational properties. With offices conveniently located in downtown Mississauga and Milton, we regularly serve clients located throughout southwestern Ontario. If you have an upcoming residential real estate transaction you’d like to discuss with one of our experienced real estate lawyers, please call us at 905-361-9789 or contact us online.