Posts Tagged ‘real estate law’

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 5: Legal Stuff

Friday, November 19th, 2010

My clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area have lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer them!  This article is Part 5 of a series that addresses the most common questions I get from buyers.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 5:  Legal Stuff |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamLawyers

Do I have to use a lawyer to complete my transaction?

Yes, you will require the services of a lawyer to complete your transaction.

When do I sign the papers with the lawyer?

Be prepared to meet with your lawyer about one week before the agreed-upon possession date to sign the important documents that will allow the transfer of funds for the sale of your property and allow you to take possession.

Who sends the paperwork to the lawyers and when does it go to the lawyer?

The real estate office that listed the property will send all the paperwork to both the seller’s lawyer and the buyer’s lawyer, and this will be done after all conditions have been removed.

What do I need to bring with me to the lawyer?

The lawyer will usually require of you:

  • 2 pieces of identification (one with photo) for each person listed on the mortgage documents:  driver’s license or passport, major credit card, social insurance card, etc.
  • a void cheque:  to arrange with your lending institution for automatic withdrawals of mortgage payments
  • a certified cheque or bank draft with the cash to close.  “Cash to close” is the rest of your down payment, lawyer’s fees and disbursements, title insurance and any property tax adjustments
  • proof of insurance on your new home

Utilities, Insurance, Property Taxes

When should I get the utilities set up for my new house?

As soon as your offer becomes unconditional, call the city or town for water, sewage and garbage services, as well as each utility company for electricity, natural gas, telephone, cable TV and Internet service.  For specific companies and contact information in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County, check out the Community Connections business directory on my website at  under Utilities and Services, or see my Moving In Package.

What do I need to do with insurance?

Arrange for home and property insurance as soon as your offer becomes unconditional.  Before you can take possession of the property, your lawyer will require proof of insurance prior to your lending institution releasing your mortgage.  Ask your insurance company to fax your insurance information to your lawyer.

How are my property taxes paid?

This is an important conversation to have with both your mortgage broker and your lawyer.  There are several ways property taxes can be paid.  Most people make one payment in full once per year at the end of June, meaning you pay 6 months in arrears and 6 months in advance.  Depending on when you take possession, you may owe tax already due, or you may get a credit.  It is also possible to make monthly or other installment payments in most Alberta cities and towns, provided the appropriate paperwork has been filled in.

 Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 5:  Legal Stuff |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamPossession Day

 Can I get back into the house before the possession date for things like taking measurements, photos, etc.?

Technically, no.  There is no provision in the contract for you to re-enter the property until you take possession.  If you must re-enter, you can have your REALTOR® write this into your contract as a term of the offer.  My recommendation is that you take measurements, etc. before removing all conditions.  The closer to the possession date, the more chaotic your new home will look as the sellers pack to get out in time.

What time will possession happen?

According to the standard purchase contract, possession is to occur at noon but, given the complexity involved in the transfer of funds, this rarely happens.  I tell my clients not to expect to take possession before 2 PM.  You should keep in close contact with your lawyer’s office the day before possession to ensure everything will be completed on time.

What happens if something is broken when I take possession?

Section 4.2 of the Purchase Contract states:  “When the buyer obtains possession, the property will be in substantially the same condition as it was in when the Contract was accepted.”  If there is a problem, the first step is for the REALTORS® to work with their clients to find a mutually beneficial solution to resolve the issue.  If this is not possible, the problem escalates to the lawyers who will attempt the same thing.  If this doesn’t work, the buyer has the legal right to sue the seller.  Most times, the seller is reasonable and prepared to take responsibility for any problems found on the day of possession.  It should be expected that, if a seller has listed his property with a REALTOR®, the REALTOR® has educated his or her client about the responsibilities of a seller.  As a part of the services I provide to my clients, I give my sellers a checklist of items to have completed by possession day (“Moving Out Checklist“).

Does the house have to be clean when I take possession?

No.  There is no provision in the contract to force the sellers to ensure the house is cleaned before you move in.  You can expect that, on possession day, the house will be in much the same condition as when you viewed the property.  Everyone has a different definition of clean so you may want to spend the first day cleaning rather than unpacking!

If you don’t see your question here, it might be answered in the Buyers Guide section of my website.  Or, feel free to contact me any time by email at or by phone 780-910-9669.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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