Real Estate Lawyer

Our real estate practice is cost efficient, reliable and determined to protect your interests leading up to and beyond the closing date of a transaction, no matter the complexity or the issues involved. Buying or selling a home and moving can be stressful. We are here to help.

We leverage technology to complete your transaction remotely, without ever having to meet in person. Our clients find us accessible, fast, committed and knowledgeable. We are transparent, we communicate and make your real estate closing with us a user friendly legal experience.

Real Estate Legal Services include:

Selling Your Home

Buying Your Home

We get you the keys to your new home! But first, we:

Refinancing Your Home

Other ways we can help

and any other related matter concerning Real Estate Law in Ontario.

For most of us, or homes are the most significant and valuable assets we own. As such, when entering into the sale or purchase of property, it is wise to seek the guidance of a real estate lawyer who will have your best interests in mind. It is best to involve a trusted lawyer as early in the process as possible.

Don’t hesitate to contact us sooner rather than later.

What is the Purchase and Sale Agreement?

The purchase and sale agreement is central to the transfer of a property. You could use a bare-bones standardized form, but this almost always leaves a lot to be desired and too much room for ambiguity. You will most certainly want to have a trusted, experienced real estate lawyer review the agreement, and amend it so that it best represents your interests as the buyer or seller. Your agreement should be as clear and specific as possible with regard to terms and conditions, pricing, timelines, and any special arrangements you may have agreed to or find important.

But it doesn’t end with one document. The purchase and sale of real estate is, at its core, a complex negotiation. Through the process, from informal agreement to formal written contract, there will be a great deal of push and pull, and it can take time, energy, discussion and likely some compromise to satisfy all parties before the transaction is complete and the property is transferred. Having the guidance of a real estate lawyer throughout the process can alleviate stress and ensure that your interests are protected.

Do I need a lawyer to prepare the Purchase and Sale Agreement?

Given the importance of the Purchase & Sale agreement, your best course of action is to have a trusted, experienced lawyer assist in drafting the agreement to ensure it accurately reflects your goals and protects your interests. You could use a standardized form, but this almost always leaves a lot to be desired and too much room for ambiguity. Even if you are working with a real estate agent, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer review the agreement.

The agreement should outline terms and conditions, pricing, timelines, and any special arrangements you may have agreed upon. The clear and specific language found in a custom agreement drafted by your Lawyer will be far more precise and better reflect your intentions than a standardized form. It’s this level of clarity and expertise that will offer you the greatest protection and minimize potential disagreements.

Given the importance of the Purchase & Sale agreement, your best course of action is to have a trusted, lawyer assist in drafting the agreement to ensure it accurately reflects your goals. Even if you are working with a real estate agent, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer review the agreement.

Can a Purchase & Sale Agreement be Negotiated?

Real estate sales can quickly turn into heated negotiations. Unlike a real estate agent who may be representing both you and the buyer, your Lawyer will always advocate exclusively on your behalf. You will never have to concern yourself with your Lawyer’s motive, and you will never have to worry about possible conflicts resulting from dual agency. Your Lawyer always works for you and only you, in the negotiation of your agreement.

It is worthwhile to note that there is more to the negotiation than merely getting you the best price. It’s a complex process which can be difficult to navigate without a lawyer acting as your guide.

There are multiple opportunities during the negotiation process to amend and review the agreement to ensure that it remains acceptable to you, and that any amendments called for don’t negatively impact you in some unforeseen way. Your Lawyer will ensure that you remain protected throughout the process.

What Issues exist when buying a Property?

Property can come with issues that may not appear visible to the untrained eye. Sometimes property lines are unclear or in dispute. Sometimes there are encumbrances in place such as liens, easements (rights of way), or encroachments. What rights are in place to protect or secure property from the owners of neighbouring properties? A knowledgeable and experienced real estate lawyer will guide you to ensure you avoid any hidden entanglements that would otherwise cost you time and money.

What is involved in a Real Estate Transaction?

While every transaction is different and issues vary depending on the property, the parties and the terms of the transaction, generally a real estate transaction includes preparing and reviewing closing documents which consist of signing documents, some of which include:

  • Acknowledgment and Direction Transfer / Title Deed
  • Acknowledgment and Direction Charge / Mortgage
  • Purchasers closing documents
  • Sellers closing documents
  • Title Insurance Policy
  • Applicable Declarations
  • Warranty / Bill of Sale / HST declaration
  • Tax Certificates
  • HST Rebates
  • Acknowledgement of Reports
  • Mortgages, Registration and Discharge
  • Various Directions

And many more, as is required

What else is involved in a Real Estate Transaction?

The purchase and/or sale of a house, condominium or other property is complex. On its own, it’s stressful enough, but then add the complexity of relocating yourself, your belongings, and your family. The stress adds up quickly and it can feel as though you’re being buried under an avalanche of tiny details. It’s a process that can be overwhelming. Did you discontinue services? Utilities? Mail? Did you notify the various parties about your change of address? This distinguishes us from other lawyers: we will be there to walk you through the big and the small details. We can help you manage the logistics of your move as well as the legality of the purchase and sale.

Ontario Land Transfer Tax

On transfers of residential real property in Ontario, Ontario Land Transfer Tax (LTT) is calculated on the purchase price (less a calculation regarding HST, if the property purchased is a newly built home), based on the following upward sliding scale:

0.5% on the first $55,000 of the purchase price, plus

1.0% on the amount exceeding $ 55,000 up to and including $250,000, plus

1.5% on the amount exceeding $250,000 up to and including $400,000, plus

2.0% on the amount over $400,000 up to $2,000,000 plus

2.5% on the amount over $2,000,000 (as of January 1, 2017)

[Note that for non-residential properties, such as industrial or commercial real estate or for multi-unit residential properties (3 or more kitchens) other Ontario LTT revisions and increases may apply].

The Toronto City (Municipal) Land Transfer Tax (MLTT):

The City of Toronto (With a boundary of Steeles on the North, Western boundary of Etobicoke, Eastern boundary of Scarborough and Lake Ontario’s shoreline on the South) approved a municipal Land Transfer Tax that will be levied in addition to the current Ontario provincial Land Transfer Tax to be effective for closings on and after March 1, 2017.

For property containing at least one, and not more than two, single family residences the MLTT rates are:

0.5% of the amount of the purchase price up to $55,000.00

1.0% of the purchase price between $55,000.01 and $250,000.00

1.5% of the purchase price between $250,000.01 and $400,000.00

2.0% of the purchase price between $400,000.01 and $2,000,000.00

2.5% of the purchase price above $2,000,000.00 (for residential properties under 3 units)

Land Transfer Tax Refunds for First-Time Homebuyers

Beginning January 1, 2017, no land transfer tax would be payable by qualifying first‑time purchasers on the first $368,000 of the value of the consideration for eligible homes. First‑time purchasers of homes greater than $368,000 would receive a maximum refund of $4,000.

The refund will be reduced if one (or more) of the purchasers is not a first‑time homebuyer. The refund will be proportionate to the interest acquired by the individuals who qualify for the refund.

To qualify for a refund:

  • The purchaser must be at least 18 years old.
  • The purchaser must occupy the home as their principal residence within nine months of the date of transfer.
  • The purchaser cannot have ever owned an eligible home, or an interest in an eligible home, anywhere in the world, at any time.
  • If the purchaser entered into an agreement of purchase and sale before December 14, 2007, the home must be a newly constructed home and the purchaser must be eligible for the Tarion New Home Warranty.
  • If the purchaser has a spouse, the spouse cannot have owned an eligible home, or had any ownership interest in an eligible home, anywhere in the world, while he or she was the purchaser's spouse. If this is the case, no refund is available to either spouse.

The first‑time homebuyers refund program is restricted to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.

The refund is instantly available on closing of the real estate purchase. Any amount of Ontario land transfer tax above the allowed maximum refund must be paid on closing.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a form of insurance that serves to protect the property owner against unforeseen, potentially expensive problems related to the property’s title. “Title” in this instance simply refers to the true ownership of property. Property ownership can carry with it enough stress, but the fear of some unforeseen title expense can really make it a terrifying prospect. Title insurance can help assuage those fears as you become a property owner, by ensuring against potential damages.

Title insurance is not actually a legal requirement in Ontario, so the decision is one you should discuss with a lawyer you trust. The benefits of coverage, especially when weighed against the cost of title insurance, usually make it an appealing option. In some cases, you may be required by a bank or lender to purchase title insurance if you are using a mortgage to finance the sale.

What Does Title Insurance Cover?

Title insurance can be purchased for both residential and commercial properties, but for residential properties, there are two types of title insurance: Owner’s Policies and Lender’s Policies. An owner’s policy (as the name implies) covers the home owner for as long as you own the property, and is priced based on the value of the property itself. A Lender’s Policy will protect the lender for the duration of your mortgage, and is priced based on the value of the mortgage.

Title Insurance covers a fairly extensive list of risks, including:

  • defects that would have been revealed by an up-to-date survey
  • survey errors or illegibility of survey
  • encroachments and defect in title
  • contravention of municipal zoning by-laws
  • unmarketability of title
  • invalidity or unenforceability of the mortgage on title
  • existing liens against the property
  • easements (other than usual easements for utilities, etc.)
  • contravention of subdivision, development and other agreements
  • priority of certain construction liens
  • priority of unregistered easements and rights of way
  • fraud or forgery (prior to and after closing)
  • solicitor error, omission or fraud
  • unpaid property taxes or local improvement charges by a prior owner

What is Not Covered by Title Insurance?

While it has become standard practice to purchase title insurance on every purchase, it is important to note that title insurance will not cover every possible problem that you may encounter. It is not a home warranty and should not be treated as such. Issues such as damages, disrepair, and theft will not be covered. It also will not cover any additions or renovations you happen to add to the home. You may also encounter:

  • Native land claims
  • Environmental issues
  • Problems discovered in a new survey of the property
  • Zoning violations

Even though title insurance is not a catch-all solution, most real estate lawyers consider it more than worth the cost of purchase, as the coverage is still very broad and can prevent very expensive issues that may arise in the ownership of property.

Special Issues with Condominium Properties

Purchasing a condominium comes with unique issues that don’t arise with other residential property. As a purchaser, you will be dealing with both the present owner of the condo and the condo corporation. Your real estate lawyer must review all of the legal documents involved in a home purchase as well as those specialized documents that are only part of a condo purchase.

You will need to understand your costs and responsibilities as well as what the condominium corporation is responsible for. It must be confirmed that the seller has paid all common expenses (condominium fees, also called maintenance fees) due up to the closing date and that you know the amount you will have to pay to the condominium corporation each month as a new owner.

If you are buying a new condominium from a builder, there are additional issues that are explained to you. The contents of the builder’s form of agreement of purchase and sale (which is very different from the contract used to buy a resale condo) and the builder’s disclosure documents are reviewed prior to the completion of the transaction.

A problem with buying a new condominium property from a builder is the hidden costs that will be added to the price at the final closing. These are disclosed in the agreement of purchase and sale and can potentially add tens of thousands of dollars to what you thought you had to pay. I identify these costs for you and help make sure that these costs are known and then capped at a reasonable level.

Special Issues with Cottage Properties

The issues surrounding cottage ownership are numerous. There are real estate issues to consider, tax and principal residence issues to discuss and estate implications. As the circumstances surrounding cottage ownership varies considerably it is best to consult a lawyer to obtain legal advice relevant to your cottage property and situation.

What is a "private" mortgage?

A mortgage is a considered to be a "private" mortgage if the lender is not a Schedule I or II bank, registered loan or trust company, a licensed insurer, or a subsidiary of any of them; pension fund;,or any other entity that lends money in the ordinary course of its business.

What is a syndicated mortgage?

A syndicated mortgage means a mortgage having more than one investor [rule 3.4-34 of the Rules of Professional Conduct]. These mortgages are often held in trust by a lawyer for convenience and collection purposes.

What is the definition of "charge"?

For the purposes of By-Law 9 "charge" is defined in section 1(1) as having the same meaning as given it in the Land Registration Reform Act: "charge" means a charge on land given for the purpose of securing the payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation, and includes a charge under the Land Titles Act and a mortgage, but does not include a rent charge.

What to expect on closing day?

In Ontario real estate closing transactions are traditionally done by exchanging closing documents, funds and key(s) between the buyer's lawyer and the seller's lawyer. This is the final stage in the transaction. Your lawyer concludes the transaction by sending you a report with all the related documentation and a new ownership information.

Contact Charney Legal to discuss your case and obtain personalized legal advice relevant to you.

The general information on this page is not applicable to any specific case and is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for legal advice and may not be relied on as such. Readers are expressly advised to consult with a qualified lawyer for advice regarding their specific circumstances and entitlements under Ontario law.