Finding a lawyer to assist in the real estate transaction

To find a lawyer in your area, go to The Law Society of Upper Canada's website. Because of ethical concerns, your REALTOR® cannot recommend or endorse a particular lawyer. However, he or she may be able to give you the names of several lawyers versed in real estate law to contact. You could also try contacting the Lawyer Referral Service (1-800-268-8326, toll-free) and specifying what City you are from and what kind of lawyer you are looking for. They will then put you in touch with suitable professionals in your area, who will provide you with a thirty-minute, free consultation over the phone, at the end of which you can determine whether you would like to retain their services.

When you interview prospective lawyers, determine the extent of their real estate experience and ask how accessible they are on weekends and evenings, as that is when most offers are presented. Ask about their fee structure. Do they charge a flat fee for services rendered? If so, what services do they offer for how much money, and how and when will they let you know if costs are likely to exceed the figure quoted? Some lawyers charge by the hour and will probably give you an estimate on how many hours your transaction is likely to take. Make sure you understand what factors could result in the job taking more hours than originally anticipated.

In addition, find out what other legal costs could be incurred so that you can budget for them.

Home Inspections

A professional home inspection will help you to make an informed decision during the purchase process and gives you valuable information about a house and its systems. If the inspector uncovers any deficiencies, you have an opportunity to take the cost of repairs into account in the offer to purchase. Or, the seller can make repairs to remove any impediment to the sale of the house. Often the home inspector can suggest alternative, reasonably-priced fixes.

Or perhaps you're thinking about putting your home on the market. A pre-sale home inspection can detect previously unknown problems or potential upgrades that you might want to consider before your REALTOR® lists the property. Disclosing latent defects in advance so that your REALTOR® can disclose them to prospective purchases may save you from being sued down the road. Having a home inspection will give you a marketing advantage – the ability to identify problems that could stall the sale. Even if repairs are required, the inspector's independent recommendations could help speed up the sale.

The role of the Home Inspector is to make a valid assessment of the systems and components that make up a house. The highest national educational standards are required by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) through the National Certification Program.

To find a home inspector in your area or across Canada, visit the CAHPI website.

Title Insurance

Millions of Canadians count their home as a core asset in their investment portfolios. Protecting this asset has never been more important for those who have a home or an investment property. And while many Canadians know that insurance plays a crucial part in protecting homeowners against fire and theft, the Consumers Council of Canada says few Canadians are aware of other issues that can affect “good title” to their property.

Title insurance is a simple, cost-effective way for homeowners to protect themselves against the fastest growing real estate threat, title fraud; as well as unpaid liens, past renovations completed without a permit that lead to code violations and other issues. Title insurance protects consumers from the potential fallout if they fall victim to real estate title fraud, including the cost of defending their rights of ownership, the stress and uncertainty of the situation, and the possibility of losing their home altogether. Policy holders can rely on their title insurer to defend their title, saving them substantial legal costs, time and the frustration involved in resolving the situation.

Real estate fraud is an issue that law enforcement, legal, lender and insurance communities are working hard to address.

It is estimated that the average case of real estate fraud is in the range of $300,000. In comparison, the RCMP estimates the average credit card fraud case in Canada to be around $1,200. The Consumers Council of Canada strongly recommends that Canadians educate themselves about the risks associated with many of these dangers and the important role title insurance can play as protection.

Title insurance is relatively new in Canada, to find out if you're covered, start by reviewing your real estate closing documents or contact the lawyer who acted on your closing. If you are not covered, it's not too late.

To find out more about title insurance for your home, please contact a title insurance professional:

This information is provided by a Title Insurance provider, not the London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS®.