Role of a Real Estate Lawyer

For most people, purchasing or selling their homes will be their most significant financial transaction they will come across during their life. Therefore, one cannot overstate the importance of such an investment. 

 Buying or selling your home is a process that is very complex and full of decisions. It also has a lot of severe and legal concerns. This is where the role of your lawyer comes in.

The role of a real estate lawyer in Ontario has two distinct scopes of work.

A lawyer for closing is only responsible for ensuring the property is transferred as per the law.

In contrast, if there is a dispute, then a real estate litigation lawyer is separately retained for dispute resolution only.

What Does A Real Estate Lawyer Do At Closing

The Lawyer for closing is tasked with ensuring that the transaction closes per Ontario laws and regulations. Below is an in-depth summary of the work expected from the lawyer for closing a real estate transaction.

At Shaikh Law, we take care of all the legal responsibilities for such a complex transaction from the initial consultation up to the closing of the property’s transaction and possession; this ensures that our client does not have to worry about any hidden legal issues buried under extensive paperwork. Our lawyer will provide 100% support to our clients to protect their interest in the real estate transaction during their purchasing process until our client has become the property’s legal owner.

The following briefly describes what to expect from your Real Estate Lawyer while purchasing a home: 

1. Your lawyer will review and explain all the legal documents you need to sign and answer any questions you may have during the process.

2. The lawyer will investigate the property’s title (see below) by conducting necessary searches to ensure that the purchaser is protected from property claims and that your interests are safeguarded when dealing with the seller’s lawyer.

3. Your Lawyer will discuss any legal problems affecting the title of your property. Examples of this can include your neighbours’ fence crossing the property line or issues with the condo status certificate. It is your lawyer’s responsibility to provide solutions for such legal problems.

4. Most importantly, your lawyer ensures that the previous owners’ debts, such as a mortgage or unpaid bills, are dealt with before the closing.

5. Your lawyer will review the zoning laws to ensure the property’s intended use is following approved zoning restrictions.

6. Your lawyer will complete the documentation to ensure that the funds will in available for closing and officially transfer the property title in the name of the purchasers at the property registry.


Although the above section briefly describes your Lawyer’s role in closing the purchase transaction, the following are key aspects to note of the transaction: 


The Agreement of Purchase and Sale, or merely the “Agreement,” is an essential document that should contain all the concerns related to purchasing or selling a home. 

It includes, among other critical items, the property’s price and directions on how to pay, as well as a detailed description of the property and other conditions of the process. 

The lawyer should thoroughly analyze the Agreement before the buyer signs it, and if the buyer has any questions about the Agreement of purchase, they must ask their lawyer 

New build construction contracts or Agreements require a lawyer’s approval as to the form and content. However, this is not a practice for a resale home.

 Agreement of Purchase and sale sent to the lawyer after it is signed by the parties, where all conditions to the Agreement are satisfied, has no scope for a lawyer’s review. If this is the case, the lawyer may not help the client but will surely identify any legal issues to protect their interest in the transaction.


A Title Search reveals the instruments registered against a property. Examples of standard instruments include the Transfer, a Charge, Notices, Bylaws, etc. When purchasing a home, the buyer must know what instruments will be remaining on the home following closing.

Your Lawyer will conduct a Title Search in every transaction. Sometimes the lawyer may have to do multiple title searches to ascertain any liens, charges, mortgages, caveats or notices such as notice for sale or power to purchase by a bank, etc.

Suppose the buyer is acquiring a loan for the transaction. In that case, the lender will necessitate that a lawyer looks at the land records before the transaction’s conclusion and report to the bank any concerns the lawyer may have.

After inspecting all of the above, the lawyer will report to the buyer, the lender, and provide copies of the Land Registry title.

Suppose the buyer is not obtaining a loan. In that case, their real estate lawyer in Ontario will conduct title searches, review title transfer documents from the seller, and make sure no claims are registered against the property.


Title insurance protects against genetic vulnerabilities in real estate titles, which may not be apparent from the title search. 

Your Real Estate Lawyer cannot guarantee against latent defects in the title that are not registered; hence, these are not easy to discover from a review of the public records.

Such latent defects in the title may include fake deeds, missing inheritors, clerical mistakes, issues with payment of property tax, condo fees, the property’s boundary, etc. A title insurance policy will protect you, the buyer, against such defects.

It is also crucial to note that if you are purchasing a home with a mortgage, your lender will make it a condition for financing to obtain lender title insurance to protect their interest. 

Simultaneously, the purchaser is also strongly recommended to buy the owner’s title insurance policy.

Suppose a buyer purchases an owner’s policy at the same time as the mandatory lender’s policy. In that case, the title insurance company may give considerable concessions toward the cost of the buyer’s title insurance policy.

Your Lawyer will make the Title Insurance arrangements and confirm you have a legal title upon finalizing the closing. 

This is to provide peace of mind to the buyer and prevent frustrating and costly situations in the absence of title insurance protection.

Our Real Estate Lawyer is registered and on the approved lawyer’s list with leading title insurance companies such as FCT (First Canadian Title) & Stewart Title & Chicago title.


Your lawyer may also be responsible for acquiring a metropolitan Tax certificate for the property from the town or city where the property is situated; this is done to calculate property taxes. 

If the seller has overpaid their property taxes, then the amount will be a credit to the seller; if the seller has not paid the property taxes, then a credit is given to the buyer towards their purchase price. 

The lawyer’s responsibility is to ensure that you only pay property taxes for the number of days you own the property and not for the entire year.


Before the closing date, a final Trust Ledger showing the statement of accounts and the copy of the title, land transfer tax, and other reports will be provided to the buyer by the lawyer; these documents will contain a brief description or detail of monetary aspects regarding the transaction.

 Along with the final statement, the lawyer will explain many other documents to the buyer, including the details of any mortgages/loans.

The Lawyer for closing is responsible for making arrangements for all necessary closing paperwork, fixing the closing schedule, explaining all essential closing documents and ensuring the documents are all executed correctly.

After the buyer and the seller have completed all the closing documentation, the lawyer will record the title deed, which is how the seller conveys the house’s title to the buyer for the determined price.

 After that, the lawyer will exchange legal documents and keys with the seller’s lawyer.

At this point, your transaction will be complete. Your Lawyer in will complete the necessary reports for your transaction, and, following this, the lawyer’s role in the transaction will come to an end.


It is crucial for a client, whether buying or selling a property, to fully understand the scope of work provided by the Lawyer.

Once the transaction has closed, a closing real estate lawyer’s role in the transaction comes to an end. In the vast majority of cases, there are no issues regarding the purchase or sale of a home. Your closing lawyer resolves most problems that arise before the closing date.

In some cases, after closing is complete, issues arise, leading to a dispute between the seller and the buyer, such as the seller damaged the property. 

If these are significant issues, then the parties may need to litigate this matter in court to resolve it. In this instance, your lawyer for the closing would not be retained automatically for this matter as the lawyer’s scope of work only included completing the transaction until the closing.

It is important to stress that it is rare the parties will need to litigate following the closing. If you do require litigation services, you will have to sign a new retainer with a real estate litigation lawyer for this matter. You can choose the same lawyer who closed your transaction, or you may choose a different attorney since each transaction is unique. 

Real Estate Litigation Lawyer 

If you do decide that your matter requires post-closing litigations, finding the right lawyer will ensure your rights are protected, and you achieve an appropriate resolution to your matter.

Your Real Estate Litigation Lawyer in Ontario will discuss your particular matter with you, the strengths and weaknesses, before deciding whether to proceed with litigation. A detailed review of the entire transaction will take place, including a careful review of the Agreement. 

At this point, you will need to decide how to proceed with the litigation. If your matter is a relatively simple matter, you may choose to file a case in small claims court. In this situation, your lawyer for dispute resolution can help draft the claim and other documents necessary to commence your case. 

As for complex matters, you may need to retain a real estate litigation lawyer to represent you in a civil action in the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario.

In this case, your lawyer will represent you in all aspects of your matter up until its resolution. It is important to note that, although your lawyer will initially discuss with you the likelihood of a favourable outcome, the lawyer can never guarantee any results. 

Regardless of whether you choose to proceed with a small claim or choose to litigate the matter in the Superior Court of Justice, you will have to sign a separate retainer agreement with your Real Estate Litigation Lawyer for Dispute Resolution. 

Your retainer will state that you will be billed at the lawyer’s hourly rate for the time spent on your matter. On average, a real estate litigation lawyer’s hourly rate for dispute resolution can range from $270 per hour to $450 per hour. 

Before your matter proceeds, your lawyer will let you know of the approximate cost of representing you. 

However, it is difficult to estimate the total legal costs as the time spent on each case will vary. However, your lawyer will continually keep you updated about the fees and invoice.


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