Some Hints From a Real Estate Lawyer to Help the Process go Smoothly

We seem to get a lot of the same questions about the process of buying or selling. Here is a quick summary of important points to be aware of when you are buying, selling or refinancing a house:

1.      You will have to meet with your lawyer in person. Most lawyers have a limited number of 'after hours' appointments and generally will need to see you during the day. Please ensure you will be able to attend your lawyer’s office a couple days prior to closing to sign the paperwork. A scramble to book an appointment at the last minute is unnecessarily stressful for everybody.


2.      Ensure the bank sends your real estate lawyer the “mortgage instructions” in a timely fashion (as far in advance of closing as possible). This allows us to complete the paperwork required and to advise you of the funds you will need to bring in for closing.


3.      We don’t often know the amount of funds you will be required to bring into our office for a closing until a couple of days prior to the closing date. We will let you know as soon as this is available, but it is based on information from a number of sources, and sometimes we don’t have all the information far in advance of the closing.


4.      The timing of the closing depends on a number of factors. Everybody wants their key as early as possible, and we always strive to achieve that. But it does depend on both the buyer's and seller’s lawyers’ availability, together with the timing your bank sends mortgage funds to your lawyer.


5.      If you are selling, it is really helpful to ask your mortgage lender in advance, approximately what the penalty will be (if any) to 'break the mortgage'. We often see clients frustrated because they didn’t know there is a cost to break a mortgage early (where applicable);


6.      Banks are really worried about fraud these days, and rightfully so. We are seeing that most banks will put a hold on closing funds for a few days, even if the funds are certified from your lawyer. So if you need your sale proceeds immediately, you would be best advised to find out your bank’s policy on this, as it is out of the real estate lawyer’s control.


7.      Related to point 5, most banks do not accept Powers of Attorney for closing a real estate transaction. If you want to have a Power of Attorney act for you to buy or sell a house, there needs to be a good reason and “convenience” doesn’t usually cut it. Most banks will scrutinize the use of a Power of Attorney very thoroughly and some won’t even allow the use of one. You should find this out ahead of making the arrangements to use a Power of Attorney.


We love helping clients in their real estate transactions and want the process to be smooth for you. If you have any questions about how we can guide you through a closing and make the process smooth for you, give us a call.