What does a lawyer do?


In a purchase transaction, working in conjunction with your real estate agent, your lawyer will help you negotiate the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Typical conditions that are inserted to protect buyers are those relating to financing, building inspection, sale of existing home, and if the property is a condominium, the receipt and approval of the condominium status certificate.

Your lawyer will ensure that any other specific concerns are addressed in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, because if its not in writing, an agreement or an understanding is not legally enforceable (in most circumstances). Once the conditions are met, your lawyer will then search the title to ensure that there are no liens, encumbrances (such as existing mortgages) or other title problems.

The lawyer “quarterbacks” the transaction for you and ensures that your closing, and all of the closing documentation is prepared and delivered in a timely fashion. You will meet with your lawyer a day or two before closing (or earlier if circumstances warrant) to review all of the closing documents and deliver the closing proceeds.

The actual registration of the deed (called a “Transfer”) and the mortgage (called a “Charge”) is done electronically. Your lawyer is a licensed user of the Ontario Teraview Electronic Registration System and the information concerning the legal title transfer is prepared by your lawyer and registered electronically on your behalf. On the day of closing, your lawyer will send the closing proceeds to the seller’s lawyer and, in return, receive the keys.

Once the deliveries have been received by both the seller’s lawyer and the buyer’s lawyer, they will then access the electronic database, exchange passwords, and allow the Transfer (and Charge if applicable) to be registered by the buyer’s lawyer. The actual registration is almost instantaneous, and once done, allows the buyer’s lawyer to release the keys to the buyer.

The one remaining thing for the buyer to do is to come back into the lawyer’s office to pick up the keys. For timing of picking up your keys, please see “When Do I Get the Keys”.

Sales (and Mortgage Refinancing)

As a Vendor your lawyer will assist you in the preparation of the Agreement. Your lawyer prepares the Statement of Adjustments and the Closing Documentation and makes arrangements to pay out all of the existing debts secured against the property. The closing adjustments include all prepaid items such as property taxes, condominium fees or fuel oil.

Your lawyer closes the transaction for you (this is now done electronically - for further information about the process, please see the “Purchases” section above) and ensures that all obligations are paid out of the closing proceeds (such things as the real estate commission, the balance of any outstanding mortgages or secured lines of credit) and then delivers to you - or deposits into your bank account - the net proceeds.

For a mortgage refinancing, the lawyer will search title, meet all the obligations set out by the financial institution in the Mortgage Commitment, prepare the Mortgage, receive the proceeds, register the Mortgage (called a “Charge”) electronically, pay all necessary obligations and deliver, or deposit into your bank account the net proceeds. For a building mortgage, there will be several “draws” and a subsearch of title is required at each stage.