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Do I really need a lawyer for that? Pt. 1 Buying or Selling a Home

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Lawyers are expensive. I should know; I’m a lawyer. I frequently talk with clients, or prospective clients, about whether they need to spend money on a lawyer for a process or transaction that they’re going through. My response usually starts with “I’m going to give you a completely biased answer and say yes, you probably need a lawyer; but let’s discuss the possibility of not using one”. As a lawyer, I generally think that the risks in not using a lawyer for most transactions, outweigh the cost, even if good legal services are expensive. However, I also understand that other people may be more willing to take on risks and difficulties than I am, so I like to make sure I lay out these risks and difficulties for my prospective clients and let them decide for themselves. In this series, I will be discussing the more common situations in which I’m asked whether a lawyer is totally necessary or not; hopefully to help you make an informed decision for yourself as well.


Do I really need a lawyer to buy or sell my home?


Yes.


The answer to this particular question is somewhat easier than other ones that I get. In Ontario, generally speaking, all real estate transactions require a lawyer representing each side (the buyer(s) and the seller(s)) in order to register the change in title with the Land Registry Office. This means that if you don’t have a lawyer, you won’t be able to actually change the ownership of the property as far as the Ontario government is concerned.

There are, however, other good reasons to have a lawyer involved in your real estate transaction in addition to just doing the bureaucratic things right. A lawyer is trained to understand the nuances of land ownership and can provide valuable advice that others may not understand or even be aware of. For example, reviewing agreements and other instruments registered on title is something that your lawyer can do for you in the transaction. This means that you will fully understand the nature of a shared driveway agreement, or requirements imposed by a subdivision agreement before you purchase the property.

A lawyer can also help sort out problems that arise during the purchase process. These include things like running into issues with your bank in the mortgage process, dealing with unforeseen registrations on title to the property, and negotiating amendments to the deal based on changing circumstances.


While not every law firm does this, we like to make sure we schedule time for our clients to meet with their real estate lawyer directly to provide them with an opportunity to ask any questions that they have and to go over all of the parts of the transaction to provide understanding of and confidence in the transaction process. If you would like to discuss buying or selling a property in Ontario, please reach out to us at RealEstate@mcdonaldsimon.com or call us at 519-273-2734.


Disclaimer: This blog should not be construed as legal advice. Each individual circumstance has nuances that need to be considered by a licensed legal professional and there is no one-size-fits-all answer in the law. If you require legal advice, please contact someone who is licensed with the Law Society of Ontario and is properly insured to provide legal services or practice law. I would prefer you contact me; but please contact a legal professional with whom you feel most comfortable.



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