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Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer In Hamilton?

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, it’s likely the largest transaction of your life and one that can beworth close to a million dollars in Hamilton these days.

So it should go without saying that, no matter which party you are to a Hamilton real estate deal, you should be represented by a real estate lawyer in Hamilton. Even if a real estate agent prepares an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, they are not legal experts and the contracts they write may not be legally binding or protect the parties involved from changing laws and tax codes.

There are more details below about what a real estate lawyer does and some of the other situations in which you may need one.

Role of the Real Estate Lawyer During Property Transactions

These are some of the duties a real estate lawyer performs for each party during a real estate transfer.

When Buying a Home

Here’s what a real estate lawyer does for the buyer:

  • Draft or review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS). When buying a newly built home or condo, the real estate lawyer ensures that you are aware of all the costs and obligations you are responsible for as the buyer. This can include extra charges and changes to the closing date. An APS for a resale home is generally less complicated. But when purchasing a new or resale home, only a lawyer can conduct a title search to ensure that the buyer is getting a “good title” to the property that is free of debts, loans, mortgages, liens and other obligations that would otherwise be transferred to the buyer.
  • Arranges for Title Insurance. Your lender may insist on you purchasing a title insurance policy to protect you from title fraud.
  • Confirms that property taxes have been paid. Your real estate lawyer will calculate the amount of property taxes owed by the seller and buyer depending on when they are due and the time of the sale and ensure each party pays the portion they are responsible for.
  • Contact utility companies. Similar to property taxes, the buyer’s lawyer will contact the utility companies to ensure the buyer is only billed for utilities after they’ve moved in. If there is an overlap in billing cycles, the lawyer ensures the party who overpays their share of the utility usage is reimbursed.
  • Handling of the finances. If you are using a mortgage, your lawyer will prepare the paperwork, receive the mortgage funds and pay the seller and Land Transfer Tax on closing the date from the mortgage.
  • Finalize the sale. This includes exchanging legal documents with the seller’s lawyer, obtaining the keys and sending a final reporting letter and documents that detail the sale to the buyer.

When Selling a Home

Here’s what a real estate lawyer does for the seller:

  • Draft or Review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS).This can include negotiating terms that are agreeable to you as the seller.
  • Deals with any title issues. If the buyer’s lawyer uncovers issues during the title search, the seller’s lawyer undertakes to have them cleared before the closing date.
  • Ensures financial obligations are met. This includes receiving the funds before releasing the deed, ensuring the seller’s mortgage is paid and arranging a bridge loan if the seller has already purchased a new home.
  • Delivering the keys and finalizing the sale. The seller’s agent exchanges necessary documentation with the buyer’s lawyer on the closing date. They will also send their client a reporting letter and accompanying documentation regarding the sale.

Other Situations When You May Need a Real Estate Lawyer in Hamilton

There are many other circumstances when you need the assistance of a real estate lawyer in Hamilton, including:

  • Commercial property leases and transactions.
  • Land development, rezoning and severing land.
  • Landlord-tenant disputes.
  • Land disputes.
  • Transferring title to an executor, spouse or beneficiary.

Real estate laws are complex, and if you need advice or assistance, in the end, the cost of a real estate lawyer is well worth the protection and peace of mind.

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