Should you retain legal help with every real estate deal? Should you call your real estate lawyer a month before the closing? A week? A day? Even the most reputable real estate law firms in Canada, including MB Property Law, won’t be able to help you if you contact them right on the day of closing. Ok, there’s a pretty good chance that MB Law will be able to help anyway, but you still shouldn’t let the situation get professional participation so late.
How a Real Estate Lawyer Can Help You
A real estate lawyer can help you draw up and sign a purchase contract, a lease agreement for residential property and a commercial lease. They can also help you work out problems with the contract, avoid illegal clauses in it and negotiate better deals for you. A real estate lawyer can also represent you in court if you are sued over your property rights or other legal issues related to your real estate deals.
Here are some examples of the situations when a lawyer is needed:
- You have to transfer property deeds (a legal action involving real estate) etc;
- You are buying or selling a lot, farm, estate, etc;
- You are purchasing land on which to build your home or garden;
- You are buying or selling a condominium unit;
- The real estate involves an easement that requires some research into zoning rules and/or deeds affecting the land;
- The real estate transaction is so complex that it needs legal research and advice before you can proceed with the closing and obtain financing.
The Element of Timing
In a perfect situation, your real estate lawyer should help you navigate the deal from the very start. They won’t help you choose a property or find a nice location (it’s a real estate agent’s job), but they will help you understand the laws surrounding the deal.
The time you should give your lawyer depends on how complex your real estate deal is. In a best-case scenario, you just keep your lawyer informed about your plans and keep them updated from the start.
This way, your request for legal help will not feel like a surprise, they’ll have a general understanding of the timing and milestones of your deal, and won’t have to rearrange a month of tasks and meetings.
When it’s Too Late
If you call your lawyer just days before the closing and ask them to draft a purchase contract, they will have little time to do so. As any other professional, your real estate lawyer has a tight schedule, pre-planned for months ahead. If you work with a good law firm — you surely will receive legal help immediately, but it will disrupt their work and won’t bring you the sense of safety it should bring. Instead, the process will feel like a rush, and in some cases — you might be even asked to pay for it.
What is the Rush Fee
Rush fee is an increased fee that’s charged when a lawyer is needed to help with a real estate deal and the client contacts the lawyer too late. The rush fee covers the costs associated with this need for immediate attention, such as hiring underlying research assistants or paying to have contracts drafted by another law firm.
Perfect Time to Contact Your Lawyer?
As a rule of thumb, we suggest making sure that:
- Your lawyer knows about your planned real estate deal as soon as possible, when you’re 100% sure about it;
- Your start regular updates with your lawyer when the legal processes, surrounding the deal, start moving;
- As soon as you have a need to coordinate collecting the permits, reports and certifications, you inform your lawyer about it and request their help (or just inform them);
- When you have documents on your future deal on your hands (anything that is worth reviewing) you give it to your lawyer, just to make sure that the paperwork has no crucial mistakes;
- When you’re about to close the deal — you keep your lawyer updated even more often and ask for their help in all areas that are not exactly clear to you;
- After the deal, in case something goes wrong — you contact your lawyer as soon as possible and you start working on their work in the courtroom.
This way, you don’t give your lawyer full control of the deal (which is unnecessary both for you and for them), don’t surprise them at the last minute, and get a sense of support and safety at every stage of the process.