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Tag: real estate lawyer

  • My seller won’t close.  Now What?

    My seller won’t close. Now What?

    We've all heard of buyer's remorse. But what if a seller won't close?

    Finally. You signed an agreement last night to buy your dream home.  You’re so excited that you can’t sleep.  You think about all those other homes you saw and lost out on.  All the bidding wars you’ve lost, and the emotional rollercoaster you went through.

    At last, your dream home is within reach.  You drop off your deposit the next day and start making a massive “to-do” list to prepare for your move.

    Suddenly a call comes in from your lawyer.  Your seller refuses to close.  As you try to grasp what just happened and wait for someone to pinch you so you can wake up from this nightmare, reality sinks in.   

    Although most real estate transactions do close, there’s always a small percentage that may fall through.  More common are situations where the buyer can’t or won’t close.  Although this may happen for various reasons, in most cases, it is more likely that the buyer experiences remorse on their purchase and tries to back out of the deal.

    But what if a seller won’t close or experiences seller’s remorse?  This situation is becoming more common as the home prices continue to appreciate and a seller starts pondering if they’ve left too much money on “the table”.

    For example, John agreed to sell his house to Martha for $500K.  Both parties signed a binding agreement to close the transaction within 60 days.  Two weeks later, John’s neighbour, who has a very similar property puts their house on the market and ends up selling for $600K.   John starts feeling that he has missed out on the opportunity to get an additional $100K for his home.  This is commonly called seller’s remorse.   Seller’s remorse can be for a variety of other reasons such as sentimental value, or others.  After all, selling your home is a highly emotional experience.

    So parties can have remorse.  What does it mean for the transaction?

    A firm agreement of purchase and sale is a binding contract. When a seller won’t close or does not complete an agreement without cause the seller can be responsible for making the buyer “whole”. 

    This means that the buyer is entitled to be put in the same position as they would have been had the seller completed the transaction as promised and scheduled.

    So, continuing with our example above, if John ends up backing out of the agreement to sell his house for $500K and Martha now has to buy another home and paid $600K due to the appreciating market conditions, John, as the seller may be liable to his Martha for the difference between the original contract price and the price that Martha will ultimately buy a comparable the home for, plus any related costs incurred by the buyer, such as legal, carrying, moving or accommodation costs etc.

    As a buyer, your damages must be reasonable and foreseeable and you must do your best to mitigate the amount of damages suffered (so staying at Four Seasons while you're shopping for a new home, is not your best option). 

    As soon as you sense the seller won't close, speak to your lawyer and Realtor to discuss your options as there may still be a way to get the deal done.

    Since every situation is different, you should, first-and-foremost, consult a lawyer to seek proper legal advice and understand your rights and remedies. It's best to do so at the earliest sign of issues. Your lawyer and Realtor can also help establish a line of communications with the seller, while removing the emotional aspects out of the equation. In many situations expensive litigation can be avoided by understanding the interests of both sides and figuring out a way to move forward.

    If all sides are cooperating, then there is a good chance you might be able to reach a compromise solving the issue quickly and getting you into your new home.

    But I Put Down a Deposit, What Happens To it?

    If a seller backs out and decides to breach the agreement, you are generally entitled to a return of your deposit upon either signing a mutual release or a court order. 

    A mutual release is a document used in real estate when a deal falls through.  It releases both parties from the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. The buyer gets their deposit back and the seller is free to sell their house to someone else or hang onto it.  It also means that both the buyer and seller release each other from any future liabilities or damages.

    As a buyer, while it may be tempting to just get you deposit back and move on, it is wise to seek legal advice prior to signing a release to understand your options.

    If you have any further questions, rest assured that the Deeded team is here to support you in any way we can.

    Important Note: This article is not Legal Advice.  No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely upon the materials provided on this website, any hypertext links or other general information without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.

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  • Conditions On An Offer:  Why They Matter

    Conditions On An Offer: Why They Matter

    Purchasing a home has a great deal of inherent risk, that is why sometimes buyers and sellers look to mitigate that risk by using certain protections when making an offer. That is where conditions on an offer to purchase come in.

    When a buyer’s offer is accepted by a seller, both parties are entered into the contract. However, when making an offer, either party has the choice to make the agreement contingent on certain factors.

    These criteria, or conditions, are clauses that would void or alter the purchase/sales contract if certain obligations are not met.  These obligations can typically fall under three major categories: home inspection, mortgage approval, and lawyer’s review of the agreement.

    Mortgage or Financing Condition

    It is common sense not to purchase something that you don’t have the money to pay for, that’s exactly the purpose of a mortgage or a financing condition in your offer.  The financing condition clause protects the buyer in the case they are not able to secure a loan. 

    This clause allows the buyer a predetermined period of time (usually 3-5 business days) to secure a lender that will issue a mortgage after the date the offer is accepted. If the buyer is unable to secure a lender that will commit to a loan, the buyer may invoke this clause of the agreement and walk away from the sale with the down payment and no other penalties.

    It is always a good idea to get pre-approved by a mortgage lender prior to putting in an offer.  This process will give you a better idea of what you can afford and what the lender is willing to lend you. Although the clause may allow you, as the buyer, to walk away from the transaction, it is always a good idea to have your mortgage lined up.

    Home Inspection

    A home inspection is one of the most important clauses to include in a closing agreement. This contingency allows the buyer to have a third-party inspect the property after putting down a deposit. 

    The purpose of this condition is to ensure that there are no issues with the property such as damage. However, if something does appear to be wrong, a home inspection contingency allows the buyer several options. They may either request that it be fixed at the sellers’ expense, renegotiate the price to factor in costs of the repairs they would have to pay or ultimately back out of the sale. It’s rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency, for more information of why home inspections are a must have, visit this blog.

    Lawyer’s Review Condition

    Before entering a binding agreement that may involve a very significant purchase such as a home, it is always wise to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer.   

    There have been many cases where both buyers and sellers did not understand their obligations under a binding agreement of purchase and sale. Some of these cases have resulted in litigation and heavy financial judgements against buyers or sellers. Having a lawyer review clause in your agreement will allow for a few days to have the agreement properly reviewed, giving you peace of mind.

    Waiving All Conditions in a “Hot Market”

    The Real Estate market has been highly competitive across North America for the past few years with properties often receiving multiple offers and bids in attempts to purchase the property.

    As a buyer, it is ultimately your decision whether you would like to waive or forego any certain conditions in order to make your offer more attractive to the sellers.  For example, a seller would typically see an offer with no conditions more attractive than an offer with certain conditions.  

    Quite simply, it gives sellers more certainty as opposed to having to wait days for all conditions to be satisfied and risking having to re-list their property should the deal fall apart.

    While removing conditions may increase your chances of securing the property,  it comes with taking on additional risks.   For example, if you agree to purchase a property without an inspection and find out there are damages and issues after the fact, those issues become your responsibility.

    Final Thoughts

    When making an offer on a home it’s wise to use an experienced Realtor that can help you ensure you have proper protection. If you have any further questions, rest assured that the Deeded team is here to support you in any way we can. Send us an email and we would be happy to answer any questions you have or provide recommendations to suit your situation.

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  • 3 Questions You Need to Ask Your Alberta Real Estate Lawyer

    3 Questions You Need to Ask Your Alberta Real Estate Lawyer

    If you just firmed up your purchase or sale (Congratulations!), you’ll likely need to choose a Alberta Real Estate lawyer to facilitate your closing.  

    No matter which lawyer you choose, asking the right questions before moving forward with having the lawyer (or law firm) who is going to handle your transaction can make the entire experience smoother and more predictable. 

    Here are some questions you must ask any Alberta Real Estate lawyer when buying or selling a house:

    What Are the Fees, INCLUDING Disbursements?

    Legal fees are the professional fees your lawyer charges for completing your real estate transaction. In addition to legal fees, disbursements are third-party costs paid by your lawyer in connection with completing your transaction. Disbursements usually include costs such as land title fees, tax searches, title insurance, and courier costs.

    Can I Sign My Documents Virtually and How Do You Conduct Your Virtual Meetings?

    An Alberta Real Estate lawyer can now witness real estate closing documents remotely. This means you can meet with your lawyer through video-conferencing to have your closing documents signed and witnessed. However, not all lawyers conduct virtual signing meetings in the same manner.

    At Deeded, virtual signings are easy, efficient and client friendly. Our lawyers can remotely witness Alberta real estate closing documents regardless of where you are located, either inside or outside of Alberta.  All you need is a computer or tablet with a webcam, an internet connection, and a mobile phone.

    What is Your Process?

    Home buying/selling is exciting but can also be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. Whoever you choose needs to be able to explain the closing process so that you can anticipate what is required and know what to expect.

    At Deeded, our goal is to make the process as smooth and seamless as possible. Our welcome package provides you with everything you need to know about the home closing process. Further, at every stage of the transaction, we will let you know what’s happening next. If you have any questions during the process, please do not hesitate to call, email or text us.

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  • Most Common First Time Closing Mistake

    Most Common First Time Closing Mistake

    We love working with first time home buyers and are always striving to educate clients to ensure their first closing experience is a smooth one.

    Let’s face it. Buying a home isn’t easy.  There’s a lot to know about buying and closing a home and while there’s a flood of information out there, it is important to get the right professionals working with you to make your home buying experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.

    The most common first time closing mistake we see with buyers is forgetting to budget for closings costs. With all the excitement, first time buyers often forget that these closing costs must be paid upfront in cash, unlike the mortgage which is amortized and paid in instalments over time.

    Before the keys can be handed over, however, there are still a few expenses buyers need to shell out for. These closing costs must be paid upfront in cash, unlike the mortgage which is amortized and paid in installments over time.

    Below we've broken down the closing costs you need to know about as a buyer so you don't fall for the most common first time closing mistake:

    Down Payment

    While your lender will provide your mortgage funds to your real estate lawyer on closing day, as a buyer, you must have the cash down payment ready to go, minus any amount that has already been paid as part of your deposit.

    If you aren’t liquid (meaning you don’t have the down payment money sitting in cash), make plans to have the down payment cash ready at least 3-4 days prior to closing.  Keep in mind that if you have your money with an online bank, it may take a few days to transfer funds, so plan accordingly.

    Your lawyer will be in touch a few days prior to closing to let you know the exact amount to bring towards the closing.  This amount will include any adjustments, legal fees, land transfer tax and other costs we’ll discuss shortly.

    For information on how your family may be able to help you cover this cost visit our gifting a down payment blog post.

    Adjustments

    What's an "adjustment"?

    If you are buying a resale or new construction property, you will likely have to pay for several adjustments on closing. Adjustments can include payments for utilities, property taxes or in cases of new construction, account setup fees, development charges, and others.

    Adjustments can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.   For example, if the seller of your property has paid property taxes for the year and you are buying the property halfway through the year, you will owe the seller your portion of the property taxes.  

    Your lawyer will inform you of adjustments a few days prior to closing.

    Land Transfer Tax or Property Transfer Tax (LTT / PTT)

    Home purchases in Ontario and British Columbia are subject to a provincial land transfer tax. Outside of the down payment, this is likely the largest outlay to be paid at the time of closing so it is very important to budget for.

    Home buyers in the City of Toronto pay municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) in addition to the Ontario LTT, which effectively doubles the land transfer amounts owed.

    Legal Fees, Disbursements, Title Insurance

    Legal costs include a number of services, such as registering the transfer of the property and registering the mortgage. Your lawyer will also facilitate the purchase of title insurance, which protects the buyer from any other claims made toward the property. It can also include the ordering of the property survey, should the buyer wish to obtain one.

    Legal fees and title insurance premiums can vary depending on the property type, location, and several other factors.

    When you can anticipate and budget properly, the stress associated with closing your first property can be drastically reduced. Remember to consult with professionals such as your Realtor, Mortgage Broker and Real Estate Lawyer, and ask lots of questions... there's no bad or silly questions you can ask.

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  • The Top Real Estate Closing Costs to Consider in Alberta

    The Top Real Estate Closing Costs to Consider in Alberta

    It is too often that we get clients who are closing the purchase or sale of their home in Alberta and are surprised to find out that they did not budget for all their real estate closing costs.

    Nothing is more stressful than finding out you have to scramble to come up with more money for your closing.   Nobody likes surprises.  That’s why we are always aiming to educate our clients and partners early in the home buying or selling process.

    If you are buying or selling a home in Alberta, here are some of the real estate closing costs you may encounter:

    Legal Fees

    In Alberta, you will need a lawyer to close your Real Estate transaction.  Legal fees can range from $800 - $1500 and can sometimes include or exclude disbursements (expenses incurred by the lawyer, which are typically passed on to you such as couriers, search costs or other fees).

    When comparing legal fees, ask for an estimate of total fees you can expect to pay for your closing, including disbursements.

    At Deeded, we offer a flat fee for closings and you can calculate your full real estate closing costs on our website. 

    Adjustment Fees

    Say you are buying a home, closing in July and the seller has prepaid their full property taxes for the full calendar year.   In this situation, your lawyer “adjusts” the taxes so that you (as the buyer in this example), would owe a pro-rated portion of the expense to the seller.

    Typical adjustments happen for property taxes, condo/strata fees, or any other fees that may have been pre-paid or unpaid by the buyer or seller.

    It is important to always budget for adjustments as they can increase your real estate closing costs.

    Land Titles Fees

    The cost of transferring land title in Alberta is set by the Land Titles Act and charged by the Alberta Land Titles Office.   It is paid for by the purchaser of the property on closing.

    This fee is calculated based on the value of the property and the mortgage funds borrowed and can be several hundreds of dollars.

    We offer a Land Titles calculator, along with calculating any other closing costs on our website.

    Real Property Report (RPR)

    A Real Property Report (RPR) is a legal document that clearly illustrates the location of significant visible improvements relative to property boundaries.  A seller will typically have to obtain an RPR as a condition of their sale.

    The amount of work (and cost) to prepare a Real Property Report varies between properties. Lot size and shape, number of buildings, natural features, age and availability of the property boundary information all affect the cost.

    Estoppel Certificate Fees

    You need this certificate to purchase a strata unit or a condominium in Alberta.  The estoppel certificate typically costs around $200 and shows you if outstanding interest is due from the previous owner, or if there are any unpaid condo contributions or interest that is due.

    Title Insurance

    Title insurance protects you from unknown title defects (title issues that prevent you from having clear ownership of the property).  For example, existing liens against the property’s title , encroachment issues (e.g. a structure on your property needs to be removed because it is on your neighbour’s property), and Title fraud.

    Title insurance is often recommended, but is optional. The cost of a title insurance policy in Alberta can range from $200 and up, depending on the value of your property and could be a worthwhile investment for peace of mind.

    Property Insurance

    If you are borrowing money for your home, your lender will typically require that you have a certain level of insurance coverage on your home and ask for proof of insurance (also known as an insurance binder), prior to closing. Without insurance, a lender will typically not advance the mortgage funds to the lawyer.

    It is a good idea to call your insurance broker and shop around a few weeks prior to closing.

    Finally, it is important to mention that your fees can vary depending on the property, location and situation. Contact the Deeded team and we’d be happy to give you a more accurate estimate.

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  • Closing On a Friday

    Closing On a Friday

    When an agreement of purchase and sale is negotiated, both parties will agree to a closing date that seems reasonable. Just as there is said to be a preferable day to book a flight or find an economical hotel room, when negotiating your closing date, the day or week of the month to close may have advantages and disadvantages. Closing on a Friday may have it's disadvantages.

    In Canada, the time span between the offer being signed and the closing date is typically 30-90 days, although some closings may be shorter or longer, depending on circumstances for the buyers and sellers.  This period is meant to allow the buyer time to obtain a mortgage, search the title, and plan their move.  

    Avoid Closing On a Friday, If You Can

    Friday might sound like the ideal day of the week to close on a purchase.  Most people are of the mindset that they can take the day off work, and have the weekend to move in.  However, Friday closings can be the cause of major challenges and extra costs should something not go according to plan.

    That’s because mortgage lenders and the electronic land registry are open until 5pm.  During the day of closing a lot goes on behind the scenes.  Funds move between the buyer, the buyer’s lender and the seller and their lender (and their respective lawyers).   After the funds arrive, the transaction needs to get registered before keys can be released to the buyer.  

    Needless to say, even the slightest delay or something not going according to plan can mean the difference between meeting the 5pm registration deadline or missing it.   If the 5pm deadline for registration is missed for whatever reason, your transaction will likely not close till the next business day.  If your closing was originally on a Friday, that means you won’t be able to close until Monday.  If it is a long weekend, you’ll be closing on Tuesday.

    While there are implications to not closing on time, some of the most common ones are additional per-diem costs for interest incurred on a mortgage or bridge financing, delays in moving (remember, your seller also has plans to move out before closing), or other penalties.  Above all, it is a stressful situation for everyone involved, despite best efforts.

    Month-end Closings

    Due to the nature of Real Estate transactions, law firms get particularly busy on the last few days of the month, especially during peak Real Estate months such as May through to September. 

    Closing at month-end isn’t an issue, but keep in mind that closing involves multiple parties that need to come together to complete your transaction.  With an increased volume of transactions and all the players in the system working to hit month-end deadlines, the chances of something slipping through the cracks will simply increase.  

    When negotiating your closing date, picking a day other than Friday or on a month-end may be a good idea, despite the inconvenience.  While your transaction may close without a hitch, even if on a Friday or the end of the month, picking the right closing date can decrease the chances of having closing issues.

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