From time to time, we get asked by clients or potential clients whether they are required to have a lawyer (or notary) to complete the sale of a property. While it is not always necessary, in most cases a lawyer or notary will be required to facilitate the transaction in British Columbia. For one thing, documents to complete the sale will need to be signed in front of a lawyer or notary public for registration purposes (there are some additional authorized witnesses but lawyers and notaries are the most common).
As well, real estate transactions in British Columbia are frequently concluded on the basis of undertakings. An “undertaking” is essentially a professional promise by a lawyer or notary to do a certain thing. These are used to permit the exchange of documents required for the sale to complete while providing protection to the seller that they will actually receive the expected sale proceeds. As well, if there are items to be paid out on the completion of the transaction, this will normally be addressed through undertakings such that the buyer has comfort that the seller’s financing will be paid out and discharged from the property as well as any outstanding balances for items like property taxes, municipal utility accounts, and/or strata property charges.
Ultimately, the answer is that a lawyer is not necessarily required for a transaction but the majority of files will require the involvement of a lawyer or notary on the part of the seller to ensure that any of the above items can be addressed for completion. Where title to a property is clear title of financial charges (mortgages, judgments, certificates of pending litigation, Land Tax Deferment Agreements, etc.) and there are no outstanding balances to be paid for taxes, utilities, strata, or similar items, the seller may be able to complete the transaction without a lawyer or notary and simply arrange to have their cheque provided by the buyer’s lawyer on closing. The seller will still have to have their signatures witnessed on the closing documents and would need to be comfortable proceeding without any legal advice on the transaction.
If we can be of assistance with respect to your real estate transaction, please contact one of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate law.
Author: Una GabieThis information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate law at the following: Una Gabie: firstname.lastname@example.org Jennette Vopicka: email@example.com Danielle (Dani) Brito: firstname.lastname@example.org Jane Otterstrom: email@example.com