Saturday, January 23

5 Legal Guidelines Before You Buy a House

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For any young family, purchasing a home can be an overwhelming and intimidating endeavour. Not only is this the biggest acquisition in your life, it is a step forward in your life.

In today’s hot housing market – yes, despite the slight decline in housing sales and values, it remains hot – prices are sky high, taxes are sky high and fees are sky high. Indeed, any young professional that wants to purchase a detached or semi-detached, condominium or loft, will find it extremely difficult.

Of course, when you want to reduce your costs, you may think that it would be wise to forego a real estate lawyer. Big mistake! You should never go it alone; you’ll only get into trouble. Having a real estate lawyer at your side is a crucial aspect of buying your first home.

Here are five things every real estate lawyer will tell first-time homebuyers:

1. Find the Right Lawyer for Your Needs

First, and perhaps this is just common sense, but you need to locate the right lawyer for your needs. Real estate attorneys provide various services – and at different costs.

So, if you’re a real estate investor, if you plan to purchase just one home in your lifetime or if you want to flip houses, you will need a real estate lawyer that suits your needs and budget.

2. Budget Costs When Buying a Home

A common mistake that many first-time homebuyers make is they have an idea that acquiring property entails two things: getting a mortgage and getting a key. This is wrong.

When you’re buying a home, a plethora of costs are associated with that decision. You have mortgage costs, closing costs, land transfer tax, HST (see below) and so many other variables.

It makes your head spin, indeed, but a real estate lawyer will help you walk through these fees.

3. HST May be Applicable

Unfortunately, your real estate property may be subjected to the 13 percent harmonized sales tax (HST) of the sale price. In today’s housing market, this is a massive chunk of change.

Before you sign on the line which is dotted, you need to find out if the HST is applicable. Also, it is important to know if the HST is applied to the purchase price already or in addition to it ($113,000 or $100,000 plus $13,000.

A real estate lawyer can assist you in finding these answers.

4. Closing Date Needs to be a Business Day

This may seem insignificant at first, but this is important to find out: is the closing date on a Saturday or on a business day? If it is the former then you need to delay it until the next business day. If it is the latter then you are already safe and sound.

5. Any Doubts? Call Your Lawyer Now!

In the end, if you have any doubts pertaining to the contract, the transaction, the mortgage or any of the municipal by-laws and codes, it is imperative to speak with your real estate lawyer. They can comb through the jargon and mumbo jumbo that you may find to be a foreign language.

You don’t want to be trapped into something that you may not want anymore. You also don’t want to be swindled. A lawyer that specializes in real estate can help guide you where you want to be. Yes, it will cost you to obtain the services of a real estate attorney, but it’s a worthwhile investment.

Real estate is complicated. What is it always this way? No. You can blame the politicians and the financial institutions for that. That said, you can’t complain; you can only act. Moving forward, before you find the property of your dreams, you should first get in touch with a real estate lawyer, who will provide you with any advice he or she has to offer. Take it.

Remember, never enter into a transaction without having your lawyer studying it first.


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Alfred Douglas

Staff writer / Web designer / General troublemaker