Need of a Lawyer – Home Buying or Selling

by | Apr 29, 2013 | Publications

Need of a Lawyer – Home Buying or Selling

When you buy a home the first step is usually to sign an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. This agree ment outlines each person’s rights and obligations and sets out what must happen before final closing. As such, it is generally a good idea to have the Agreement reviewed by a lawyer before you sign the agreement. This will help to prevent you from agreeing to something not in your best interests. This is particularly important when buying a new home from a builder because of the numerous and lengthy provisions in the agreement, especially those relating to extra charges and changes to the closing date. On the purchase of a used home, however, the standard agreements are familiar to most agents and supposed to be drafted to balance the interests of all parties. Most people do not have this agreement reviewed by the lawyer before signing but they should, especially when there is dual agency.

When you bring your real estate purchase agreement to me, I review it and advise how its provisions affect your purchase. I may recommend changes to the agreement to better protect your interests. All builder’s agreements should be reviewed by a lawyer before a firm agreement is signed or alternatively, ensure such agreement is conditional on your lawyer’s approval.

Once the agreement is finalized, whether for a used home or from a builder, a lawyer’s job is to make sure that you obtain what you are entitled to in the agreement, including ensuring you obtain good title to the property free of liens, debts, mortgages, title defects, etc. My job is to make sure of this.


One of the most comprehensive methods a lawyer can use to obtain an assurance of title is through Title Insurance. This is a policy of insurance guaranteeing your title to the property. This supplements the title search conducted by me but does not replace it. A full and proper search is always conducted. The Title Insurance Policy, for example, provides protection against any fraud or forgery that has occurred on title and may contain a “Defense of Title” provision in case a claim against your title is made.

If you are obtaining a mortgage, the lawyer will prepare all of the paperwork for the bank and receive the mortgage money to be applied to your purchase. You will sign the mortgage documents at the lawyer’s office, provide the balance for any down payment, any Land Transfer Tax and other disbursements and fees, and finally, pick up your keys at my office.


When you sell your home, I make sure that you only provide the buyer with what you have agreed to provide and, most importantly, make sure that funds are properly received before releasing the deed to the buyer. I will also pay any outstanding mortgages, Real Estate Commission, readjust taxes and deliver the keys after closing.

If you are selling before you buy, I will ensure that the funds from your sale are applied to your purchase. If you are buying before you sell, I will handle the bridge loan.



Many people are concerned about their closing costs as they often hear of unwelcome surprises when they are asked to deliver funds to their lawyer’s officer.

Your closing costs generally consist of Land Transfer Tax, Registrations, Legal Fees/Costs, Disbursements, Title Insurance and HST.

Land Transfer Tax is payable by all purchasers of homes unless the buyer is a first time buyer and the Land Transfer Tax is under $2,001.00. Land Transfer Tax is payable at a rate that increases with the price of the home. This will generally amount to 1% -2% of the purchase price. Registration costs where there is a mortgage will generally be $142.60.

Legal Fees/Costs – Lawyers charge a fee for their services, on top of which they will charge for disbursements (costs incurred in obtaining the assurance of title such as title searches, execution searches, certificate, couriers, etc., Title Insurance and H.S.T.) Unfortunately, Fees, Disbursements and Title Insurance costs can vary significantly, which leaves purchasers uncertain about their closing costs. Our website has a simple calculation of the Land Transfer Tax. Just plug in the price in the appropriate category.


The sale of a home is much the same except that there is no Land Transfer Tax to be paid and the disbursements are lower.


There may be adjustments on closing for items such as property taxes, oil or rents.

We trust this helps clarify the lawyer’s role in any Purchase or Sale. If you require further information, please feel free to call W Patrie Mackesy at (905) 628 6938 or his staff for more information or any questions. You can also inquire using the question box on the website.


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