Residential Real Estate

A home is an irreplaceable and a significant part of our lives and typically is one of the biggest investments you will make. This is why when we buy or sell a house, it should be ensured that we are protecting our hard-earned money by ensuring the proper steps are taken in the exchange of ownership between parties. A real estate lawyer will work with you, your real estate agent, your financial institution, and the other party’s legal counsel to ensure your rights and obligations are satisfied.

At Prowse Chowne LLP, we strive to provide you easy solutions while dealing with residential properties, in respect of buying, selling and mortgaging. We have an experienced and accomplished team that has a firm understanding of the importance of your transaction and the components involved. Our job is to ensure that you are given the information, support, and services to successfully complete the transaction.

Some of the frequently asked questions that our clients tend to have are addressed below:

When can I expect to meet my real estate lawyer?

Typically you meet your lawyer at least 10 business days before the closing of the transaction. This gives your lawyer enough time to obtain and missing information you may be required to provide, complete all types of documentation such as mortgages and assignments, communicate with related parties to allow your transaction to be completed as scheduled in your contract.

What are the items that make up my legal bill?

Generally, there are 4 items that are included in your legal bill. They are – legal fees, other fees and charges, disbursements to third parties and GST

What factors should I consider while choosing my real estate lawyer?

Unfortunately, people tend to focus mainly on the price as the first consideration when engaging a lawyer. However, price is only one factor to consider when you are carrying out any transaction involving your money and debt obligations. We would suggest that knowledge, experience, communication, and positive referrals are key components in selecting your lawyer. We recommend you communicate with the lawyer before you engage their services to determine how they satisfy the above criteria.

What is a Clearance Certificate?

A clearance certificate is required anytime the seller is or becomes a non-resident before the title of the property transfers to the other party. It is a confirmation from Revenue Canada that the proceeds of a sale by a person who is not a resident, need not be allocated for income tax or withholding purposes.

What is “Tenancy at Will and Possession”?

Possession will fall on the date specified in your contract and this is when keys are exchanged between the parties and is typically the same as the date of closing. However, because of the registration delays at the Alberta Land Titles Office, often the actual payment of funds to the seller’s lawyer can be delayed by a few days. In this case, “tenancy”, or a short-term lease, is requested on a tenancy-at-will basis and may be given to allow the buyer to move into the home.

What is the “Concept of Ownership”?

Under the English common law, the owner of property owned the lands from the heavens down to the earth’s core. This has been modified! In Alberta, the crown now owns all mines and mineral rights since 1905 by royal reservation unless specifically referenced upon title. All land in Alberta is registered at the provincial government land titles office. (LTO)

What are “Compliance” and “Non-Conformance”?

A real property report is typically provided upon the purchase of a single-family dwelling in Alberta. The lawyer will review this real property report for municipal compliance and disclosure of any issues or concerns. When a property is granted compliance from the municipality it means that the home complies with all city building codes and setback regulations. A property may also be deemed non-conforming which means that the home would not comply if built today, but because of the age of the home, it will be “grandfathered” by the city. Both are acceptable. If a property is deemed to be non-compliant that means that the municipality has found an issue disclosed on the real property report that does not comply with their requirements for land usage. In this situation, the issue must be remedied or application made for a variance so that the property is again acceptable to the municipality. Not having compliance or non-conformance to your real property report before the closing of the sale of a property may result in delays and holdback of funds.

What are “Title Searches or Encumbrances”?

The lawyer screens all title issues by requesting and reviewing the registered title to the land from the Alberta Land Titles Office. Any registration upon the title to the lands are known as encumbrances, some examples of which are mortgages, caveats, utility rights of way, encroachment agreements, party-wall agreements, restrictive covenants are all reviewed. Unless specifically agreed upon between the parties financial encumbrances are required to be discharged from title upon sale and purchase whereas non-financial encumbrances shall remain.

What are “Real Property Reports”?

A real property report is an engineering survey of a property. This report shows the location of improvements (ie anything built upon the land) including the house, garages, fencing, decks, covered walkways, sheds, fire pits, dog runs, hot tubs and driveways. The real property report is used by municipalities to ensure that the improvements upon the property satisfy municipal guidelines for safety and use.

What Are “City Taxes”?

Taxes are adjusted between the seller and the buyer by their respective lawyers. Taxes are assessed for a June 30th deadline based upon the billing period from Jan 1- Dec 31 of each calendar year. Depending on when you buy, you may receive either a credit from the seller or you may have to pay back the seller if they have already paid or prepaid on a monthly installment plan the taxes for the year.

How do I recover the property taxes I paid?

Property taxes are adjusted by your lawyer in the normal course of closing your transaction. You will be compensated by the buyer for any overpayments you have made, on a pro-rata basis, or you will be giving the purchaser a formal credit for any underpayment of the taxes that may be involved.

Who pays the realtors?

Generally, the seller is liable to pay all types of real estate commissions. When you sign the listing contract, you direct that the commissions will be paid from the proceeds of the sale. Your lawyer pays for any outstanding amounts as a part of the closing process.

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