25 Questions You Ask Our Ontario Real Estate Lawyers

Wondering what questions to ask a real estate lawyer? Here are the 25 questions Axess Law’s Ontario real estate lawyers commonly get asked about buying and selling homes and land.

Let’s start with the most popular questions to ask a real estate lawyer.

  1. What does a real estate lawyer do for the seller or buyer in Ontario?

Are you asking can I sell my house without a lawyer? Sorry, a lawyer is mandatory. Axess Law has qualified Ontario real estate lawyers who know all the ins and outs of real estate transactions. Your real estate lawyer transfers the keys to your home. But first, they:

  • review your offer to purchase
  • suggests changes to protect your legal and financial interests
  • receive legal documents from realtors and mortgage lenders
  • liaise with buyers’ or sellers’ lawyers if you need more time, change the contract, or want repairs or a reduced price because of a home inspection report 
  • search the property title for financial claims or liens
  • register the title in the new owner’s name
  • check for insurance if you buy a condo
  • and discharge or prepare mortgage documents.

Why you need a real estate lawyer. 

  1. How much do real estate lawyers charge in Ontario?

It varies. Axess Law’s Ontario real estate lawyers charge only flat rate fees, compared to traditional lawyers who charge by the hour. Call us for a quote.

  1. Can I share a lawyer to save money?

Not usually, unless you are related, live in a remote area, or are an estate trustee. Otherwise, buyers and sellers need their own lawyers to prevent conflicts of interest and get independent legal advice.

Communicating with a lawyer
Image by espartgraphic | Pixabay.
  1. What should I ask for in a real estate contract?

You can ask for anything you want. Offers to purchase are legally binding once accepted and signed by both parties, and irrevocable for a brief period before acceptance. (Ask your realtor or lawyer how long the irrevocable period is in your agreement of purchase and sale.)

Buyers usually include subject-to conditions, such as a professional home inspection or mortgage financing. Having a real estate lawyer draft the agreement of purchase and sale ensures you avoid loopholes that may complicate your offer.

What to do if a realtor made a mistake on the contract

  1. I signed the agreement of purchase and sale. Is it too late to make changes?

Not if the other party agrees. 

Our licensed Ontario real estate lawyers help you avoid common pitfalls before you sign a legally binding agreement of purchase and sale. If you worry you acted impulsively, give us a call.

If you can’t meet the “subject-to” provisions, Our Ontario real estate lawyers can try to amend your offer. For example, to get more time to find financing. It’s up to the seller if they agree. 

  1. Can I get my deposit back if I change my mind?

Generally speaking, yes. However, if the seller incurs legal fees, mortgage holding costs or is unable to quickly re-list and sell, you may forfeit some or all of your deposit. You could also be sued for the difference between your offer and a lower offer from the next buyer. If a real estate deal falls through, who gets the deposit

  1. Can I sue if the buyer backs out?

You could, but legal fees are costly and court delays are time consuming. Consider keeping the real estate deposit instead. If you are seriously out of pocket because the market declined between offers or you lost money holding the property, Axess Law’s Ontario real estate lawyers can advise you what to do next.

Home sweet home
Image by Kimona | Pixabay.
  1. What do you need to close a real estate sale?

Notify us as soon as the agreement of purchase and sale is signed. Email or bring your property title, survey and tax bill, agreement of purchase and sale, and mortgage documents. We will meet with you by video call or in person a few days before your real estate deal closes to sign the final documents. 

  1. Is the property title the deed?

The property title is your land rights. The deed is the legal document that transfers land rights from you to the buyer or seller.

  1. Can I ask the seller to pay the Toronto land transfer tax?

The buyer pays the tax, but you could ask the seller to reduce their price (BTW, it’s unlikely). Add Municipal Land Transfer Tax to property purchases in Toronto. 

  1. Does Ontario have a foreign buyer tax?

Foreign buyers, foreign corporations, and taxable trustees pay a 20% non-resident speculation tax (NRST) anywhere in Ontario. Read Who Pays Foreign Buyers Tax? The NRST has been increased to 20% and is now payable on properties you purchase anywhere in Ontario. See how that affects you. 

  1. Can I get the land transfer tax rebate?

Only if you are a first-time homebuyer in Ontario and Toronto, Canadian citizen or permanent resident, 18 or older, and occupy the home within nine months of buying it. You are disqualified if your spouse has owned a home before, while married to you. More on Ontario land transfer tax exemptions

  1. Who gets the HST rebate on a new home?

Usually the builder deducts it from the price. Be sure to ask in case you are expected to apply for it.

Two estranged person.
Image by Tomisu | Pixabay.
  1. I’m divorcing. Can I sell our house?

Only if your spouse agrees. Matrimonial homes you shared together are divided equally when you divorce. Any property where you ordinarily spent time together in Ontario, including a cottage or live-on yacht, can be a matrimonial home.

  1. Does my common-law partner get 50% if I sell?

Only if you had a joint mortgage or they are on the property title. Common-law spouses may sue for unjust enrichment if they helped pay the mortgage or upkeep.

  1. Can I sell a house in probate?

Yes with a court’s permission. An estate trustee can accept an offer, but needs court approval to sell.

  1. Can I sell a house with termites or rat problems?

Your realtor will ask you to disclose any problems when you list the home. If a home inspection doesn’t reveal the problems and you have withheld information, the buyer could sue you later.

  1. Are foreclosures a good deal?

They can be, although your lender may balk. Consider an all-cash offer and purchase title insurance to prevent being defrauded. Getting a home inspection is advisable. It can reveal building code violations from illegal repairs and mould or water damage caused by neglect.

  1. Can the bank foreclose if I agree to sell?

Banks can foreclose at any time. But a sympathetic lender may allow you to make interest-only payments on your mortgage while you list the home for sale.

Dealing with inflation
Image by Gerd Altmann | Pixabay
  1. Can you register “zombie deeds”?

No, according to the Ontario director of titles — once the deed holder dies, a signed but unregistered property title is invalid. Maybe, according to contradictory Ontario Superior Court of Justice rulings. Our Ontario real estate lawyers can review your zombie deed and advise you.  

  1. Do I need a home inspector for a condo?

Home inspections are a good idea for any real estate purchase. Certainly request two years of strata council minutes to check the overall building condition.

  1. Can I ask the seller to pay for repairs?

You can negotiate over almost anything. The seller can offer to make repairs, reduce the price or decline your request. Who pays condo repairs, responsibility in Ontario. 

  1. What is a title researcher?

They search property titles for liens, easements or restrictions. Axess Law’s Ontario real estate lawyers handle that for you, saving you the added expense..

  1. Can you represent me in court?

We refer you to qualified barristers if your request is outside our scope.

  1. What if I disagree with my bill?

We review your bill to explain legal fees, disbursements and charges. Questions are welcome. 

Affordable Real Estate Lawyers, Anywhere You Are

Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario  when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it.

Hiring a virtual real estate lawyer.

Book Your Own Appointments or We Assist You

Axess Law has experienced real estate lawyers available 7 days a week, day or evening. Our lawyers can meet with you in person at any of our conveniently located Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa offices. Virtual, online video calls and signing appointments are available from any location in Ontario. Call toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or our 647-479-0118 lawyer line in Toronto to make appointments. Book your own dates and times when you use our easy online booking form.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.