If you’re thinking of buying a house or condo in Toronto, you’ll need a lawyer to represent you. Because I can’t possibly write this blog without constantly thinking of all the lawyer jokes I know, I’ll just get it out of my system now:

Q: Why did God invent lawyers?
A: So that real estate agents would have someone to look down on.

Back to business…

Your lawyer’s job is to protect your rights by making sure that all the terms of your Agreement of Purchase and Sale are complied with and that you obtain clear title to the property.

After the Contract is Signed

Once you’ve signed the Agreement of Purchase & Sale, you or your real estate agent will forward a copy of all the documents to your lawyer. From there, your lawyer will:

  • Search the Title of the Property. Your Agreement of Purchase and Sale stipulates that you are going to receive title to the property free and clear. Your lawyer will confirm the name of the registered owners and legal description and will investigate any claims or charges registered against the property (mortgages, builder’s liens, easements, rights of way, judgements, leases, etc.)

Your lawyer will also need to review and ensure:

  • The property survey certificate if it exists (they aren’t very common in Toronto)
  • Property taxes have been paid
  • Outstanding utility accounts have been paid
  • Zoning bylaws have been complied with
  • Status of mortgages that the Seller has on the property
  • Your financing will be sufficient and in place on closing
  • Compliance with restrictions, warranties, conditions and agreements
  • Fixtures and chattels included in the purchase price
  • Documents prepared by the Seller’s lawyer
  • Documents related to the condo – bylaws, financial statements, disclosure statements, etc.
  • Property insurance coverage
  • Details of the mortgage being obtained

Prior to Closing your lawyer will:

  • Prepare documents relating to any sales tax for the chattels that you are purchasing
  • Arrange for you to sign any mortgage documents and make arrangements for funding to the lawyer’s trust account from the mortgage proceeds
  • Show you a purchaser’s statement of adjustments that give you a balance outstanding that you have to come up with before closing (normally need to provide this amount to your lawyer two days beforehand)
  • Prepare all documents for filing in the land registry office on the closing date

Closing Day

On this very important day, your lawyer will:

  • Search of title of the property to make sure there are no last minute claims against title
  • Release funds held in his trust account and send any amount owing to the Seller’s lawyer
  • Receive a copy of the certificate of possession from the New Home Warranty Program (for new construction condos)
  • Pay any money required on the date of closing as outlined in the statement of adjustments – sales tax, land transfer tax, balance of commission

After Closing

Your lawyer’s job isn’t done yet! After closing, your lawyer will:

  • Send you a ‘Reporting Letter’ with all the documents and records including an account of all of their fees
  • Ensure all the Seller’s obligations have been satisfied
If you actually made it to the end of this article, congratulations! You’re about to make what is likely the biggest purchase of your life – and you should know how all of your partners are helping you.

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