— We take our content seriously. This article was written by a real person at BREL.
There’s a LOT of important paperwork involved in buying or selling a property in Ontario. While real estate forms can vary, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has produced a set of standard forms that are commonly used for resale residential and commercial leases and sales; the standard forms are then customized to the individual situation. Today, I’ll be looking at each form and explaining what they mean.
Note: In December 2023, the rules and paperwork surrounding real estate in Ontario were retooled, so if you have bought or sold in the past, there will be some changes! Read on for more details.
Also note: This post had originally included links to the relevant forms as well as Plain English versions of the standard forms. OREA has asked us to remove these links; all the forms discussed can be obtained from your REALTOR.
But before we begin, some overall info you should know:
- In Ontario, all REALTORS work for a brokerage. All agreements are legally between you (the Buyer) and your REALTOR’s brokerage—not the individual you are working with
- As of December 2023, a new option became available to brokerages: Designated Representation. In this arrangement, the individual agent (or agents) you are working with is responsible for representing your interests, and the brokerage simply provides services (such as advertising or administration). At the BREL team, we operate under Designated Representation.
- Traditionally, it was the brokerage that provided this representation, and by extension all its agents (as agents of the brokerage). This is called Brokerage Representation. One result of this arrangement was that working with a buyer agent and a seller agent from the same brokerage meant you were under Multiple Representation, where both parties were restricted in what help they could provide. Designated Representation avoids this.
- All real estate forms and documents can be signed electronically with an acceptable electronic signature program (eg. Docusign), including the Agreement of Purchase and Sale
- Your agent should take the time to explain what the documents mean to you – don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t sign anything without reading it.
- You have a legal right to receive a copy of all the forms you sign
The RECO Information Guide
The first document you are likely to encounter is the RECO Information Guide, introduced in 2023. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (the consumer protection body) has mandated that this document be given to any prospective client in advance of providing any services or advice. It contains information anyone contemplating working with a realtor should know before deciding to enter (or not enter) an agreement to work together.
The purpose of the guide is to help consumers understand:
- The benefits of working with a realtor, as well as the risks of self-representing (which is always an option)
- The duties agents and brokerages owe their clients
- Representation agreements, including commission
- Disclosure rules during bidding wars where there is more than one offer on a property
- Other topics including Multiple Representation, and how to file a complaint to RECO
Your realtor should discuss this guide with you, and will ask you to sign a copy, acknowledging that you were given it and had its contents explained to you.
In addition to the Information Guide, you’ll be asked to sign one of 2 documents further defining your relationship:
- The Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA); or
- The Self-Represented Party acknowledgement form
Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) – OREA Form 300
Ontario’s Buyer Representation Agreement is the agreement between you (the Buyer) and your agent’s Brokerage. It confirms the terms of your relationship, the commission that will be paid if you buy a property during the period of the agreement, the role of the agent and what happens if they are also representing the Seller. The BRA will also name the specific agent(s) designated as your representative under Designated Representation, list any specific services to be provided, as well as the expiry date and geographic limitations of the agreement.
When you sign a BRA, it means that the agent will:
- Promote and protect your best interests
- Negotiate favourable terms for you, the Buyer
- Maintain confidentiality
- Take reasonable steps to determine and disclose material facts about properties
What does that really mean? It means your agent will give you sold data or other dirt they find that may not be in the Seller’s best interests. It means they will negotiate price and terms that are favourable to you. It means they must take extra steps to discover material facts about the property and neighbourhood. It means they will always keep your information confidential (eg. your motivations for buying, your budget, your timeline, etc.)
In the overwhelming majority of cases, when people talk about “working with an agent,” this is the kind of relationship they are referring to.
A quick note about the Holdover Period
Also explained in the RECO Information Guide, the “holdover clause” in a BRA outlines the circumstances under which a BRA could apply for an additional period of time (specified in the BRA) beyond the main contract expiry. In essence, for any property that was introduced to a buyer during the time the contract was in effect, that contract would still apply for that additional period of time. (But not for any new property). While this situation is rare, it can be a confusing concept for some—speak to your realtor if you have any questions.
Information and Disclosure to Self-Represented Party Form
Buyers and Sellers are of course free to represent themselves if they are confident that they have the expertise and/or experience to do so. In this case, a realtor would be prohibited from providing services, advice or opinions, including advice or an opinion on price, terms, or clauses to include in an offer. An “SRP” is 100% on their own!
Of course, there is a form for that too—the realtor involved will supply it and ask you to sign the acknowledgement saying this is the route you have chosen.
If you do end up purchasing a property this way, there is also a form to allow for the data from that sale to be recorded on the MLS.
FINTRAC – Identification Record
This is a mandatory identification document required by the federal government. FINTRAC stands for the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
Agreement of Purchase and Sale – OREA Forms 100 & 101
This is the biggie! The Agreement of Purchase & Sale is the actual agreement for you to purchase a home! In Ontario, a real estate transaction has to be in writing to be legal, so this is the main legal document that defines the terms and conditions of your offer to purchase. There’s a version of the form for house purchases (Form 100) and one for condo purchases (Form 101). The most important non pre-printed parts of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale are as follows:
- Legal names of the Buyers and Sellers
- Legal description of the property (including the lot details for houses, or the condo corporation for condos)
- Purchase price
- Amount and terms of the deposit [Related: All About Deposits]
- Irrevocable time (in other words, the time the offer expires if not accepted by the other side)
- Completion date (the date you take possession)
- Inclusions and exclusions (eg. appliances, light fixtures, etc.)
- Identification and terms of any rental items (eg hot water tank)
- For condos: description of the condo fees and what they cover; description of parking and locker
- Whether or not HST is applicable (usually not for resale residential sales)
- Directions for the lawyers, including important dates for title searches, closing arrangements, etc.
The schedules attached to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale form part of the agreement and are customized by the agents. Generally speaking:
- Schedule A is created by the brokerage representing the Buyer and includes the unique terms and conditions for the sale, favourable to the Buyer. Schedule A is where any conditions would be outlined (eg. financing, home inspection, status certificate review, etc.) as well as any other terms.
- Schedule B is often included and is created by the brokerage that represents the Seller. Schedule B’s differ significantly, so make sure to read it thoroughly! Typically there will be details regarding the handling of interest on the deposit held by the selling brokerage, as well as clauses limiting the selling brokerage’s liability.
Important info about the Agreement of Purchase & Sale:
- Time limits matter on the Agreement of Purchase and Sale – if an agreement expires at 11:59 PM, it’s too late to accept it at 12:01.
- It’s not enough to just sign something within the time frame, the now accepted document also needs to be delivered to the other side before the expiry time (these days usually by email).
- The time zone that is relevant is the one that the property is located in – it doesn’t matter if the Buyer is in Europe and the Seller is in Asia. If the property is in Toronto, Toronto time dictates the time.
- All negotiations must be in writing to be legal
- Anything changed or written in must be initialled by all parties
- The brokerages and their agents are not parties to this agreement – it’s a legal contract between the Buyer and the Seller and is merely created by the agents/brokerage.
Confirmation of Cooperation – OREA Form 320
The Confirmation of Cooperation details the type of relationship the Buyer and Seller have with their agent/brokerage, and the commission agreement between the Seller’s brokerage and the Buyer’s brokerage. It also details what happens if the brokerage (Brokerage Representation) or same agent (Designated Representation) represents both the Buyer and the Seller (multiple representation). Both brokerages are party to this agreement so both agents will sign it.
Real estate forms and paperwork aren’t nearly as complicated as they appear – but make sure your agent takes you through what they mean, and don’t be afraid to ask them for clarification.