Can I Buy a Home Without a Lawyer?

Have you thought about buying a home without a lawyer?

Imagine yourself trying to juggle the financial aspects of purchasing a home with the complicated legal formalities – not to mention the process of packing up and moving your family and household.

You don’t need that kind of stress.

You can certainly purchase a home without a real estate lawyer, although some regions require a lawyer – like Alberta.

So, if you live in an area that requires one, rest assured that you’re placing your home’s purchase in good hands.

Yet, if you live in a place that doesn’t require a lawyer’s involvement during a real estate transaction, it’s best to find out exactly what a real estate lawyer will do for you before deciding to proceed without one.

Here is some information on what real estate lawyers do and how they make the purchase of your home a painless and efficient one:

What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?

Real estate lawyers guide you through the purchase of a property and will review all legal documents to ensure there are no discrepancies or future disputes.

They also make sure all property taxes are up-to-date and that there are no claims against the property. Real estate lawyers will confirm as well that there is a valid title and calculate the land transfer tax that is due upon closing.

This may not seem like a lot, but with each step in purchasing a home, there is room for error.

Here is an example of the process a real estate lawyer will complete when you purchase a new home:

  • Receive and review the Offer to Purchase
  • Complete a title search and tax search
  • Prepare mortgage documents
  • Advise on final amount
  • Sign legal documents
  • Transfer funds to the seller’s lawyer
  • Register the mortgage and report it to lender
  • Provide completed land title

And here are some more details on how a real estate lawyer will handle the purchase of your new home:

Contracts

The terms of the sale and purchase of a home are only legally binding if they are stated in a contract. While you could negotiate with the seller yourself, a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf as well as ensure that the contract adheres to all local real estate laws.

For example, local law could state a specific period of time in which the contract has to be reviewed before becoming legally binding.

As a home buyer, you may not be aware of the law’s intricacies or even mistakes made in the contract. A lawyer can review this for you.

Title Searches

Real estate lawyers can also perform a title search to make sure the property is free of liens or judgments. It may turn out that the seller actually doesn’t have a legal right to sell the property.

In the event that a seller does have a lien on the property, a lawyer can find a way to work around this. They may negotiate a price reduction to compensate you for the delay or advise the seller on methods to satisfy the lien so their property can be sold.

A lawyer can also obtain proof that the lien has been satisfied, should you ever plan to take out a mortgage or loan against the property.

Otherwise, if there are unchecked liens on the property, you could find yourself forced to take responsibility for the previous owner’s debt.

Filings

Purchasing a home requires a lot of paperwork, and a real estate attorney can file necessary papers quickly and efficiently.

Some examples of necessary paperwork include real estate deeds and building permits.

If deeds and permits are not properly filed, it could cause significant financial issues in the future.

For example, if the official ownership of the property is not properly transferred, you may find out later down the road that you don’t actually own your home.

Or, you may begin construction and find out that you do not have the proper permits, resulting in hefty fines.

Mistakes can happen, and papers can be misfiled or not filed at all, but real estate lawyers will ensure that the work is done properly.

Hiring a Lawyer When Buying a Home

Purchasing a home is not a straightforward transaction. Because of the intricacies involved with contracts, titles and filing, it is recommended that you find a lawyer who specializes in real estate.

So, while in some areas you certainly can buy a home without a lawyer, the question becomes – should you?

Hiring a real estate lawyer will reduce a significant amount of stress on your home buying journey – and allow you the time to focus on relocating your family into your new home.

Have you ever purchased a home without a lawyer? Let us know your experiences in the comments!

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