25 Questions You Ask Our Ontario Real Estate Lawyers

You asked us, we answered: 25 questions we commonly get about buying and selling real estate.

  1. Can I sell my house without a lawyer?

Sorry. Axess Law has qualified, licensed real estate lawyers who know all the ins and outs of real estate transactions.

2. Why do lawyers charge so much?

Most Ontario real estate lawyers charge by the hour. Axess Law charges a flat fee of $799.99 and up to sell or $999.99 and up to buy.

3. 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.

4. I signed the agreement of purchase and sale. It is too late to make changes?

Not if the other party agrees. A qualified real estate lawyer helps you avoid common pitfalls before you sign a legally binding real estate contract. If you worry you acted impulsively, give us a call.

5. I can’t meet the “subject-to” provisions. Can you fix it?

We can try to amend your offer. For example, to get more time to find financing. It’s up to the seller if they agree. 

6. 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.

7. 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, ask for our advice. 

8. 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. 

9. 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.

10. 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).

11. Does Ontario have a foreign buyer tax?

Foreign buyers pay a 15% non-resident speculation tax anywhere in the Golden Horseshoe (Niagara Falls west to Hamilton and northeast, to and including the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), up to Oshawa). 

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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. We can review your zombie deed and advise you.  

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. What is a title researcher?

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

24. Can you represent me in court?

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

25. What if I disagree with my bill?

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

Ontario’s Flat Fee Real Estate Lawyers 

Axess Law Ontario has experienced real estate lawyers available 7 days a week, day or evening. Our lawyers can meet with you in person in Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Ottawa, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland. Video calls and e-signing appointments are available from any location in Ontario. Call toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form to make an appointment.

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

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