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Do You Need a Real Estate Lawyer When Buying a Home?

June 9, 2020
3 mins
An older woman sips her coffee and an older man takes notes as they listen to a broker

A home is likely the most significant and expensive purchase a person will make in their lifetime. It is both a short-term decision for where to live, as well as a long-term decision for investment purposes.

A home is more than just its purchase price – you must consider how much more you will need to spend, both in the short term (such as moving costs), and medium to long term (such as desired renovations to create your dream home). You should also consider the value of the property and appreciation rate. If you decide to sell it later, will you earn a profit on your investment?

There’s a lot of money on the line. This is why it is so important to ensure all your decisions and financial transactions are protected by a credible representative who understands and abides by the necessary laws and procedures.

Real estate lawyers offer a multitude of services that aid their clients in purchasing or selling a home. They take the legal matters related to the purchase or sale entirely off your hands. Let’s face it – legal jargon can be a tough field to navigate and making a mistake can be easy yet costly. This sentiment particularly rings true if you are buying a home for the first time.

What does a real estate lawyer do?

Real estate lawyers can check many boxes for their clients during the purchase of a property. This includes reviewing all legal documents, such as the Agreement of Purchase or Agreement of Sale and, in the case of a condo purchase, the Status Certificate. Real estate lawyers ensure property taxes are up-to-date, and no claims are listed against the property. They also confirm if there is a valid title and calculate the land transfer tax that is due upon closing.

How much do real estate lawyers cost, and how are they paid?

Some people may be under the assumption that using a real estate lawyer will lead to unnecessary additional expenses when it comes to buying or selling their home. However, having the ongoing help of a professional advisor who understands the ins and outs of real estate legalities can save you both time and money.

The costs associated with real estate lawyers depend on whether you’re buying or selling the home and the complexity of the transaction. These services in big cities will usually run up to $2,000 but could also be as low as $700. Some lawyers have an hourly rate; others will offer a flat rate for their services. Lawyers will also charge anywhere from $300 to $800 for registering a mortgage on behalf of their clients. Hiring a real estate lawyer can often be more expensive when selling a home since there is more work to conduct.

Can I buy a property without a real estate lawyer?

The real estate market can have its ups and downs, but if there’s one thing that stays consistent when buying or selling a home, it’s the significant amount of paperwork required before you can exchange keys and addresses.

The cost of using a lawyer might deter some people from taking the leap. But it is arguably crucial to have the expert advice and guidance of various professionals in your corner to ensure the transaction goes as smoothly as possible. For what ends up being only a small percentage of the home’s cost, hiring a real estate lawyer can be well worth the money for certain people, particularly those with no experience buying or selling a property.

A home is most likely the largest investment you will ever make. By not having a legal expert on your side during the process, you could ultimately end up on the hook for much greater costs down the road.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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