New homebuyers should consider the following as they prepare to close on the purchase of their home. A diligent real estate lawyer can help protect their interests in a number of ways:
• Confirm that the seller in the agreement of purchase and sale has the legal right to sell the property. Is the property part of an estate dispute? Does someone hold joint title with the seller and has he or she agreed to the sale? Is the seller’s ownership properly registered?
• Investigate with various levels of government to determine if the property has any problems such as building code violations before a homebuyer takes possession.
• Advise on title insurance which protects the purchaser’s interests if there is title problem. The policy provides compensation for losses suffered from title issues even if they are not discovered until years after the sale is complete. Title insurance is a one-time purchase made at the time of home purchase and for a $500,000 home costs only about $200. This is a one-time premium for as long as you or your heirs own the home: There are no deductibles and no additional annual premiums. Yet, 48 per cent of recent home buyers say they did not or can’t recall buying title insurance.
• Explain the options regarding owning property with a partner or spouse.
• Save closing costs. If the homebuyer obtains title insurance, a real estate lawyer can often reduce the number of searches and investigations, thus saving the consumers out-of-pocket costs on their overall legal bill.
TitlePLUS has created a free Real Simple Real Estate Guide to educate home buyers on the role of a real estate lawyer and the key issues around title. The Guide also includes financial calculators, a glossary of terms, and a locate-a-lawyer tool. Visit www.titleplus.ca.