Why it is important to get the right lawyer when selling the family home

There are many reasons why you might be thinking of selling the family home. You might be downsizing as the kids grow up and fly the nest, or you might need additional space as more arrive. You might be moving because of a job, to be nearer extended family and friends, or for a host of other reasons. Whatever the reason behind it, selling a house is always a major undertaking and one you need to get right. For most people, selling an existing home and buying a new one represents the biggest and most important transactions they will ever make.

It’s possible to buy and sell property without engaging a lawyer at all, but a real estate lawyer is fully versed in all the processes, technicalities and issues involved. Whether you’re looking for a real estate lawyer in Toronto or elsewhere, they can help make the process much easier and far less stressful. They can also help you avoid pitfalls and negotiate unforeseen problems. If you are selling an existing home and buying another, that’s two potential sets of problems to deal with; in the long run, engaging a real estate lawyer can end up saving you more money than it costs, as well as streamlining the process.

The Globe and Mail reports how designer Andy Stanleigh bought a house in Ontario and received a letter from the vendor’s lawyer claiming that the sellers had already paid the property taxes for the year and would need to be reimbursed before the sale could be finalized. When his mother-in-law, who works for a real estate lawyer, called the City, she found that the taxes had not in fact been paid and that no additional money was therefore owed to the vendor.

“If I was a first-time home buyer and didn’t have a lawyer, I might have taken [the letter] at face value and said ‘Okay, this is one of the things you have to do to close, here’s the money,’” Mr Stanleigh said.

Some of the tasks your real estate lawyer will undertake when you decide to sell your family home will typically include running a title search on the property to ensure there are no defects, drafting the deeds for the buyer, and drawing up a Statement of Adjustments that sets out the details of the financial transaction. They can also deal with the various fees and pay them on your behalf. If you are buying another property, they can complete the title search on your new place, sort out title insurance, register the property in your name, and draft a Statement of Adjustments for this transaction as well. A trained real estate lawyer can also help if you need to refinance – typically because the cost of your new home is higher than the mortgage on the family home you are selling.

There’s a lot to take care of, and engaging the right lawyer can save a lot of headaches and help you to avoid unexpected costs.

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