Understanding Your Legal Real Estate Invoice – Why Cheaper Is Not Always Better

I am constantly receiving calls from prospective Purchaser and Vendor clients, looking for me to provide them with a quote for my legal fees.  The unfortunate truth is that competition within the legal field has caused prices to drop, which on its face seems good for clients, but these low legal fees can cause lawyers to cut corners, and not give files the attention they deserve.  This blog post hopefully will explain why “cheaper is not always better”.

The cost of your lawyer’s fee is small comparative to Realtor commission, land transfer tax, and mortgage financing.  But, the role of your lawyer is anything but small in a real estate transaction.  Your lawyer is a professional hired to protect your legal interests.  It is your lawyer who will ensure you are taking good and clear title, and will deal with post closing issues, such as mortgage discharges, damage to the property prior to closing, and appliances in poor working order, to name a few scenarios.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing a lawyer based on a few hundred dollars.  Here are some important questions you need to ask your real estate lawyer (this list is not exhausted by any means):

  1. Does their fee include Title Insurance?  Title insurance can be upwards of $400.00, and it is important to know whether it is included.  Title insurance protects title to your home from liens, unpaid taxes, and boundary issues.
  2. Will your lawyer order a Tax Certificate?  When purchasing a home, it is important for your lawyer to order a tax certificate to determine whether there are any unpaid taxes.  A majority of lawyers today do not order a tax certificate, but instead rely on Title Insurance to deal with the issue of unpaid taxes.
  3. Will your lawyer be available?  This is an issue that a lot of clients don’t consider.  When I bought my first house I met only once with the lawyer handling our file.  All other communication was redirected to the lawyer’s assistants and secretaries.  In a lot of law firms it is those assistants and secretaries that are actually doing the bulk of the work.  Although qualified, you as a client are not paying for the time of an assistant or secretary.  Your legal fee should be based on the time and expertise of the lawyer personally.

As a lawyer who understands the need to be in contact with my clients, I am always available by phone and email, and am the only person who will work on your file.  I pride myself on personal service, and understand that clients sometimes need their hand held through what can be a confusing and stressful process.  Remember, the process does not end after you’ve hired a realtor.  Your lawyer will be the one to protect your interests during and after closing.

Please send me an email at annalise@brooklinlawyer.ca should you have any questions.  I would love to provide you with references from satisfied clients who know that when they hire me, I am there for them.

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