Real Estate FAQ

Real Estate 
Frequently Asked Questions

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We are your Lethbridge Real Estate Lawyers.  
Moving or refinancing or investing in property can be an exciting but stressful time.  
We try our best to take the stress out of one of the most important transactions in your life.  

At LETOURNEAU LLP, we can assist you with any of the following:
  • Selling your existing home or property
  • Buying a new home or investment rental property
  • Refinancing your property
  • New construction financing
  • Commercial leases
  • Buying a commercial property
  • Commercial financing
  • Real estate development projects

When should I be contacting a lawyer about my real estate transaction?

So often, as lawyers, we see your purchase contract or your mortgage instructions from the bank after you have signed the contracts.  Many pitfalls can be avoided with a quick call or visit with a lawyer.  We would be happy to discuss things like contract conditions, terms of the contract, timing, etc. so that you can feel confident going into your transaction.  It is really important to get legal advice with such an important transaction.  People often spend considerable time before making less important decisions, such as a car purchase, or where to go on holidays. Why not get some information and advice before spending up to many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What will my lawyer need to close the transaction?

We like to have as much information as soon as possible from you so that we can properly assess what is involved, and so that we can educate you and advise you along the way.  At minimum, we will need a copy of your contract, whether that is a sale or purchase agreement.  For a sale, we will also need a copy of your Real Property Report if one exists, along with a legal description, often property tax information, your contact information, and the contact details for the purchasing party or their lawyer.  For a purchase, we will need a copy of the purchase agreement, instructions from your mortgage lender (usually the bank), instructions from your mortgage broker if you have a broker, and contact information for the purchasing party or their lawyer.  We need to know the status of any conditions that apply to your contract.  We will also want contact information for your Realtor, mortgage lender, or mortgage broker.  Usually, we ask that you simply have your Realtor, mortgage lender or broker contact us, and they will provide most of the information that we need to begin the process.

How much should I budget for legal fees and disbursements?

For real estate transactions, we offer competitive FLAT RATE legal fees. No surprises. Our legal fees for a standard residential real estate transaction include all regular disbursements (these are the expenses that law firms incur on your behalf, and vary depending on each file). Our flat rate fees provide clients, brokers, and real estate agents with clear numbers when budgeting for legal costs. No need to worry about additional fees such as: file opening fee, courier charges, photocopying fees, land title fees, and fax charges - these are all included! * ^

Property Value ----------Sale -----------Purchase with Mortgage Cash ----------Cash Purchase or Refinance
Under $100,000 --------$925 ----------$1400 -------------------------------------------------$1000
Under $200,000 --------$925 ----------$1450 -------------------------------------------------$1050
Under $300,000 --------$925 ----------$1500 -------------------------------------------------$1075
Under $400,000 --------$925 ----------$1550 -------------------------------------------------$1050
Under $500,000 --------$925 ----------$1600 -------------------------------------------------$1075
Under $600,000 --------$925 ----------$1650 -------------------------------------------------$1100
Under $700,000 --------$925 ----------$1700 -------------------------------------------------$1150
Under $800,000 --------$925 ----------$1750 -------------------------------------------------$1175

*GST not included ^Extra fees may apply for work outside of the scope of a regular transaction – we will discuss this with you

How should I handle utilities, taxes and insurance?

We will ask you to handle any outstanding utilities.  We will make inquiries about your property taxes and will obtain tax information or a tax certificate to ensure that the taxes are paid in full at the time of the transaction.  We will talk to you about insurance.  If you are selling, you need to ensure that your insurance stays in place all the way up to and including the closing day. We will make an adjustment for property taxes to ensure that you are not paying for taxes that you don't owe.  This is a little bit complex, but we will take care of all the calculations and explain them carefully to you.

Why do I need a lawyer for real estate?

There are many steps involved in a real estate transaction, whether it is a sale, purchase or refinance.  Gone are the days when a landowner and a prospective purchaser met at the gate to the property and exchanged a sack of coins for a legal deed to the land.  A lawyer will provide information and advice to you all along the way, but will also ensure that you get what you bargained for.  We will put all of the necessary paperwork together, will deal directly with your bank, will pay out any mortgages or other encumbrances, will ensure that a land transfer and mortgage is properly registered at land titles, will ensure that property taxes are properly accounted for and paid out, and will make sure that land does not transfer until everything (including the money) is properly in place.  As your lawyer, we reduce the risk of something wrong happening, and take a whole lot of the stress out of your hands, so that you can focus on other things, such as moving, investing, or putting your money into your bank account.

I need to refinance my mortgage.  Do I need a lawyer?

It is very likely that your mortgage lender will require you to hire a lawyer to complete a refinance transaction.  Some mortgage lenders will do this type of transaction in-house, or will outsource this work.  However, it is still very common for the bank to ask that you hire a lawyer to make sure that everything is completed properly.  As your lawyer, we will make sure that you get the refinancing monies properly and on time, and that any outstanding debts or mortgages are paid off in a timely manner, with proof of payment.  We will make sure that the land title is cleared up of any encumbrances that shouldn't be there.  When we do a refinancing, we usually act for the bank as well, to ensure that the new mortgage is properly registered with land titles, and to make sure that the bank and you receive full reporting on the entire transaction.  Again, this can be a bit complicated, but we take all the work and stress out of your hands.

How does a purchase transaction work?

When you decide to buy a property, you will usually work with a Realtor to negotiate the price, the date of possession and any other terms. You can tell the Realtor that you would like to use our firm to assist you, and they will then arrange to send a copy of the contract to our office directly.  You will work with your bank or your mortgage broker to get your financing in place. Again, you can provide them with our contact information and they will send us instructions directly for your mortgage.  We will likely call you to get any missing information.  We will then prepare all necessary documentation, do a search on the property taxes and land titles, and we will then arrange to meet you to go over everything and sign necessary documents.  When we meet with you shortly before the transaction, we will run through all the numbers with you, and let you know what will happen on the day of closing. We will do our best to make sure there are no surprises and that the transaction goes smoothly.  We will also be working with the mortgage outfit you choose to get your financing in place and to properly register the mortgage.  At the end of the transaction, we will provide you with a full report, including a certificate of title. We will ensure that you have a clean certificate of title, and that your property is in compliance with the municipality or county.

How does a sale transaction work?

When you sell your home, you want to make sure that you have some legal advice, and some assurance that you will be paid properly on the date of closing.  Your lawyer will also ensure that you provide a proper real property report and compliance from the municipality, that all mortgages and encumbrances are properly paid out, all Realtor commissions paid out, property taxes are adjusted properly, and then ultimately, will make sure that you get your net sale proceeds.  We will prepare all calculations and documents needed to properly transfer your home to the new buyers, and allow you to move on to your new adventure.  At the end of the transaction, we will provide you with a full report.

I am buying a home. When do I need to deliver the balance of my funds?

We will let you know when we need these funds with as much advance notice as possible.

When can I expect to meet my real estate lawyer?

Usually a week or two before the transaction.

What do I own when I buy a condominium?

When you buy a condominium unit, you buy space that is often bounded by walls, floors and ceilings. Sometimes you also buy a parking stall. You often purchase a portion of various common areas.

Should financing be a condition of my offer to the Seller?

When you are preapproved, this simply means that you personally are approved. However, this does not mean that the financing institution has approved the property you are planning to buy. There is the chance that the bank's appraisal of the property will not justify the price you are offering. As such, you want to be sure that financing is always a condition of your purchase.

The financing has been approved for the property, is there anything else I need to do?

Typically, you are approved subject to your providing of the documentation your broker or mortgage company relied on to approve the mortgage. You may have to provide a number of support documents prior to the mortgage being fully approved. Check with your mortgage specialist well in advance of the closing date to make sure that they have everything they need to proceed.

Do I need a Real Property Report?

Usually when selling a used residential property, you will be obliged to provide a Real Property Report, which is completed by a land surveyor, and shows where everything is on your property, including the house, decks and sidewalks, and sheds.  You will also need a certificate of compliance showing that everything is in accordance with the municipal bylaws.  RPR's are usually good for up to 10 years, but if there have been any changes, you may need to provide an updated RPR.  If you have any questions about the RPR, please ask your Realtor before signing your sale contract, and then ask your lawyer for further advice.  

When do I pay for my new house?

The payment is normally made on the date outlined in your purchase contract, unless there is something that hasn't gone quite right.  

When do keys get released?

Usually at or about 12:00 noon on the date of closing (indicated and negotiated in the purchase contract

What if I have more questions?

Please call one of our lawyers for a free consultation at 403-329-4311.

Links / Resources:

The information on this website is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

Have a Question or Enquiry? Get in touch.

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