What Do Real Estate Lawyers Do at Closing?

Real estate transactions can be complex and time-consuming. Hence why an Ontario real estate lawyer is a wise investment. In fact, 40% of people say that buying a house is a stressful event in modern life. A skilled real estate lawyer can hold your hand throughout the sale or purchase, right up to the final closing day. 

In this article, we’ll cover what lawyers do before, leading up, and during the closing of a property. Continue reading to learn.

Pre-Closing Responsibilities

Enlisting a lawyer doesn’t have to happen only at touchpoints requiring legal documentation, they can be great resources from the very beginning. These are some of the ways they can help you before closing.

Pre-approval of mortgage

Before you can even consider entering into a purchase agreement you’ll need to get pre-approved for the expected mortgage amount. Hiring a realtor helps establish funding, but a real-estate lawyer can help review the fine print to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Deciding on the Right Home
Oftentimes we get so caught up in the purchase or sale of a property, that we may gloss over details that need more scrutiny. This is where a review of the property by a qualified real estate lawyer could help. They have access to zoning, title, and other information you may not have access to and can help with research.

Title Search

One of the first things an Ontario real estate lawyer would do, is a title search, to review all documents related to the property. They look to ensure property taxes have been paid and that there are no liens on the property. They also confirm the validity of the title and consider the tax implications of the transaction as well.

Collecting the Money

Once an agreement has been made and the documents are in play, a real estate lawyer will hold the funds in trust for both parties, until the entire process reaches completion.  Usually, there is a lawyer for both sides to ensure fair dealings.

Home Inspection

Believe it or not, a real estate lawyer in Ontario can help you with your home inspections.  This critical step in the home-buying process involves documentation from both the home inspector and a pest inspector. Having oversight of their reports by a qualified real estate lawyer working in Ontario is invaluable at this stage.

Pro Tip: When signing the purchase contract, make sure you allow for a final walk-through of the property as a condition of the sale. This will allow you to confirm the state of the property before closing.

Closing Day Responsibilities

Now you’ve successfully navigated the primary steps to a sale or purchase of a property and you are approaching your final closing day. This is where your real estate lawyer can shine.

Drafting the Closing Documents

In preparation for the final closing, it is time to gather up all the documents gathered to date for the transaction. If you’ve had the benefit of a real estate lawyer up until now, this shouldn’t be difficult. They will likely handle this for you, but you will need to have access to the original documents at closing time. Documents to have on hand for closing include the mortgage paperwork, including contact information for the broker, a sales agreement, a copy of your homeowner’s insurance, and any documentation for the proof of title search.

Time to Close the Sale

This is one of the most important meetings for a real estate lawyer and they will likely meet a few days ahead with you to sign the final documents and review them to ensure everything is in order. At this point, you will need to have the deposit or down payment needed if purchasing.

Closing Day

Closing day is when the magic happens. Real estate lawyers for both buyer and seller will be actively involved in making sure the transfer of money and assets are legally binding and in the best interest of their clients. 

The actual order of the process is a bit like a dance, where one party’s action incites the next party’s action and so forth.

  • Step One: The purchasing party’s lawyer will review the paperwork with the purchaser and the seller will prepare for the title transfer.
  • Step Two: The lawyer for the selling party will receive the money from the lawyer of the purchasing party. This effectively closes the transaction.
  • Step Three: The lawyer for the purchasing party will gather and send the documents with new title information to the Land Titles office for registration.
  • Step Four: the selling party will release the keys to the property to their lawyer.
  • Step Five: The lawyer for the purchasing party will collect and deliver the keys to the new property owners.

Believe it or not, this entire closing day process is usually over by noon of closing day.

Do I need a real estate lawyer to handle my real estate closing?

Emphatically, the answer is yes. 

Before today’s technological advances, lawyers of both parties would rendezvous at the Land Registry Office to complete closing day details. Now, this happens on a digital stage. Because of the levity of the situation, it’s understandable that access to this electronic registration is limited to lawyers and their firms. Even if you could circumvent the system in that way, you need a lawyer’s signature to transfer the land, or it is not legally binding.

These would both be great reasons to compel the hiring of a real estate lawyer, but they are not the most compelling argument. The truth is, you’ve heard the multi-faceted steps involved with a transaction of this nature, and with the gravity of this level of decision, why go it alone?

Hiring a dedicated Ontario-based attorney will save you time and money, by helping your transaction go as smoothly as possible. Contact us today if you need a Toronto-based real estate lawyer you can trust. 

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