Buying your first home is exciting. It is one of the most significant purchases of your lifetime and can often be a great investment for you. 

Buying your first home can also be a bit scary. It’s going to take a lot (or all) of your savings and (likely) a lot of debt to make it happen. House prices in BC have been steadily increasing and based on how real estate is trending in B.C., there are no signs of home prices getting any cheaper. You’re likely feeling the pressure that if you don’t do it now, home ownership may become unattainable. 

Thankfully, the government understands that it’s hard to buy your first home and has a few incentives in place to help first time home buyers, just like you, get their foot in the door. 

If you’re a first-time home buyer in B.C. here are the incentives and programs you should know about. While we have outlined the below incentives and programs, please read and consider each in full to ensure you are eligible and qualify.

 

Federal First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit

The Government of Canada First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit works for nearly any Canadian citizen purchasing a home for the first time. Tax credits aren’t like cash back or purchase credit. When you file your taxes the following year, you’ll be able to claim $5,000 in tax-free income which could roughly translate to about $750 of taxes that you don’t have to pay or that you may receive back as a credit. 

 

Government of Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

This first-time home buyer incentive helps qualified residents to purchase their first home by offering 5 or 10% of the home’s purchase price to put towards a down payment. Adding that to their already saved downpayment amount allows buyers to borrow less from the bank, increasing their ability to qualify for their mortgage amount and reducing monthly mortgage carrying costs. 

This is a relatively new program and it comes with many conditions. You will want to thoroughly understand all conditions and stipulations of this incentive before partaking in the program. 

 

Home Buyers Plan

Do you have an RRSP? You may qualify for the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) – with which you can borrow money saved in your RRSP to help you purchase your home, on the condition that you will repay the money you take out of the RRSP within 15 years. 

If you and your spouse are buying a home for the first time together, you each can borrow up to $25,000 from your individual plans for a total of $50,000.  

 

B.C. First Time Home Buyers’ Program

The B.C. First Time Home Buyers’ Program helps B.C. residents choose a full or partial exemption from the property transfer tax payment required when they purchase a home. How much this could save you depends on the value of the property. 

The general property transfer tax rate in BC is:

  • 1% of the fair market value up to and including $200,000
  • 2% of the fair market value greater than $200,000 and up to and including $2,000,000
  • 3% of the fair market value greater than $2,000,000

Do you want to take advantage of these incentives but don’t know where to start? A residential real estate lawyer can help you. Contact us today!

The housing market in Canada has never – and will never – seen any sign of prohibition – and with many economists stating the housing market “likely had its strongest year ever in 2020 – what will 2021 and beyond hold for us? 

First, let’s start with what we already know: the real estate market has been very strong over the last year. Demand is high, offers are being made on homes within hours of them being listed, and fanning the flames of speculation is the increase in price. In March 2021, the average sale price of a home in Canada was 31.6% higher than it was one year earlier, shattering previous records. One trend we know is clear: homes aren’t just more valuable than ever, they’re gaining in value in a way they never have before.

While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future and tell you if this is the time to buy or sell, we do have market statistics, historical trends and industry insights. Here’s what we’re expecting to continue and what’s might change in the roaring ‘20s real estate market. 

 

The urban exodus and the search for space

Triggered by the pandemic – this trend of homeowners searching outside downtown cores and wanting more space will continue. With lockdowns and frustrations with city life, combined with the popularity and adoption of remote / hybrid work options, the urban exodus and desire for less crowded areas will continue. 

 

Average prices of homes in Canada expected to increase

From the start of this pandemic to now, home prices have increased. And according to multiple sources, this has no signs of slowing. In fact:

While there isn’t consensus in how much the market will increase, there is a general agreement that it will. While this is good news for existing homeowners who want to build equity in their home, it can be a concern for those who are looking to enter the market. 

If Canada’s housing supply remains the same, prices will likely continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation, leaving those who don’t already own a home even further behind.

 

Mortgage rates to remain low(ish)

With our historically low mortgage rates and steadily increasing home prices, it’s an ideal time to borrow to buy. But any home buyer who is looking to borrow a significant sum to purchase their home should be keeping an eye on the interest rates. 

The Bank of Canada has stood by its comments last year where they claimed that rates would remain low until 2023, which is how long they expect it to take for the economy to make a full recovery. However, rates are rising. Home owners should take time to research mortgage rates and terms and also run the numbers on what their payments would look like if their interest rate increased 1, 2 or even 5% over the mortgage term.

 

Discretionary spending will increase

Many young professionals and knowledge workers were able to keep working and collecting their salaries throughout 2020, but without the opportunity to travel, dine out, go shopping or engage in other discretionary spending, they had a chance to save. The average Canadian saved more than $5000 during the pandemic and for many Canadians, those savings translated into a downpayment and added pressure to the market with more people able to buy a home. 

Now that restrictions are lifting and discretionary spending will again increase, we can expect that spending will trickle back to pubs, salons and travel and there will be fewer buyers vying over the available homes on the market. 

 

Will the real estate bubble bust?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we should expect change. As more people go back to commuting downtown, as interest rates rise, and as buyer competition decreases we expect the market conditions to shift and to soften, but only slightly. We agree with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation forecasts that this market will continue to be very strong for another two years. 

When you’re making a large investment you need to ensure that you’re able to carry the costs of it through the good years, and the bad. 

Are you taking advantage of the strong market to purchase, sell or refinance your home? You’ll need a real estate lawyer. Contact us today!

After the death of a loved one or family member, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the legal process involved. Catherine Young, the founder of One80Law, is a specialist in Wills & Probate law in Alberta. In this article she discusses when and why you might need to have a Will probated to help guide you through this challenging time.

 

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal term for the process of reviewing a Will to determine whether it is valid and authentic. If you want to read more about what Probate is, our earlier article about how to probate a Will in Alberta should be helpful. 

Now that you know more about the process and costs, you might be wondering “Do I have to go through this Probate process?” In fact, the answer is no – Probate is not always required. 

 

Did the deceased jointly own property? 

If the deceased person owned real estate jointly with another person then Probate might not be required. 

Take the example of a married couple. They owned a residential property together, and they were shown on the title deeds as “Joint Tenant Owners”. This type of ownership means that their legal intention is to pass their share of the property automatically over to the surviving partner upon their death. 

If that piece of real estate is the only asset of the deceased, then there is no reason to obtain Probate. 

 

What about other kinds of assets? 

This rule also applies to other kinds of assets which can be jointly owned, like cars or bank accounts. 

Where there are two people who are registered as joint owners of that bank account or vehicle, then Probate would not be required for ownership to pass to the other person. 

 

When Probate will be required:

In the following situations, Probate will be required so please contact us to discuss the estate: 

  1. If the deceased person did not have a Will,
  2. If the deceased person owned property (real estate, cars or had a bank account) in their name alone,
  3. If they owned other assets in their name alone, 
  4. If they had creditors or debts which were outstanding at the time of death, 
  5. If the will is invalid.

 

This is not an exhaustive list and as always, we recommend speaking to a legal professional for advice about your specific situation. Your first consultation with our Probate and Administration lawyer is free, so please book an appointment online. 

The strong property market in Canada has many homeowners asking questions about selling their home. 

Perhaps this is your first home you’ve owned and you’ve never been involved in the sale process before, or maybe it’s just been awhile. If that’s the case – or you’re just not sure where to start – we’ve pulled together this step-by-step guide for selling your home. 

Top tip: we also have a guide to buying your home, if you’re also in the market for a new house!

 

Step 1: Prep Work

Will you also be buying a property? This will impact the timeline and process involved with the sale of your home, so it’s best to be clear on this from the outset. 

You’ll also want to prepare your home for sale. Consider things like: repainting (internally or externally) and decluttering your home to make it look appealing for real estate photos. A buyer wants to be able to picture themselves living in the home, so remember to make it feel fresh and welcoming.

Is the property a condominium? There will be extra documentation required including corporations bylaws, reserve fund information, financial statements and more. 

Perhaps you have a tenant living in the property? There will be additional considerations so we recommend you speak to us about the legal implications of selling when the property is leased. 

Make a note of any contracts in place for the property – for example, the home alarm service. Will that be something that remains with the property when it sells? These kinds of contracts need to be disclosed to a buyer. 

 

Step 2: Understand how the sale process works

Where you live will affect the sale process. 

In Alberta, you’ll need:

  • A Real Property Report (RPR). The seller must provide the RPR  (unless the parties agree otherwise) along with proof of municipal compliance before closing. 

In British Columbia, you’ll need: 

  • A Property Disclosure Statement (PDS). It reviews details about the property for sale such as whether it has even been a marijuana grow-op, whether there has been any history of flooding or insect infestation, when the hot water tank and roof were last replaced, and if there are any latent or patent defects.

 

Step 3: Contact a real estate lawyer

A real estate lawyer provides legal counsel for you in the sale of your home, and ensures that you are legally protected. 

They can help you with: 

  • The mortgage discharge process
  • Answering your questions
  • Dealing with the buyer’s lawyer 
  • Reviewing the legal documents
  • Protecting you legally
  • Holding the deposit paid by the buyer
  • Finding resolutions for any unexpected delays
  • Ensuring the transaction goes through in a timely manner

 

Step 4: Buying at the same time as selling? 

You’ll want to have a real estate lawyer involved to manage the logistics of settling your sale and purchase concurrently.  

 

Step 5: Consider fees

Knowing how much money to set aside for fees will help you plan your sale. You’ll have to pay fees such as: 

  • Real estate agent commissions can range from 3% – 7% of the sale price,
  • Legal fees – here at One80 Law, we offer flat-rate real estate legal fees so you know exactly what the costs will be,
  • Mortgage discharge fees might be payable,
  • Capital gains tax if the property was an investment property,
  • Moving costs if you need to remove furniture.

 

Step 6: Sell, sell, sell!

You’re ready to list the property for sale. Do your research about potential sale prices, and consider getting an appraisal to give you an ideal of potential value, if you aren’t using a real estate agent. 

However you want to sell the property – through an agent, or on a website listing service, you’ll need to facilitate buyers viewing the property. Once you have a buyer interested who makes an offer, you can then proceed with the sale, finalise the legal documentation and go to closing – the date when the keys are handed over to the new owner.

Now that you know what to consider, it’s time to start looking for an experienced real estate lawyer in Calgary or Kelowna. One80 Law’s legal team has the real estate law experience you need.

Book a free consultation today to discuss your plans, and how we can help with the successful and stress-free sale of your home!

The process for probating a will isn’t something most people think about until they have to. But when a loved one dies, you may wonder what the probate process is, how long it takes and how much it costs. Let’s walk through what you need to know to probate a will in Alberta. 

 

What Does it Mean to Probate a Will?

Probate is the legal term for the process of reviewing a will to determine whether it’s valid and authentic. The probate process includes determining the value of the person’s assets and what bills and taxes need to be paid. It also includes administering the estate of a deceased person and ensuring that it’s done by the terms of their will, if they have one. 

 

What’s Included in the Probate Process?

The probate process includes five general steps, all of which may not be required in all cases:

  1. Gather all documents
  2. Apply for probate
  3. Deal with potential problems – revise documents & reapply (if needed) 
  4. Obtain a Clearance Certificate (if required by the CRA)
  5. Execute the will

Depending on the complexity of the estate and if any issues arise, the application and revision stages may take multiple attempts before the application is approved.

 

How Long Does it Take to Probate a Will in Alberta, Specifically Calgary? 

How long it will take to probate a will varies depending on the complexity of the estate. If an estate is small, there are few beneficiaries, and no or few debts to pay, the process will be faster. If the estate is large and complicated, there are many beneficiaries and creditors, and if there are any issues with documents, probating a will could take longer. 

Here’s what can slow down the process at each step:

 

Gathering documents

Depending on how large the estate is, gathering documents can be long or short. The executor will need to review all documents for accuracy and ensure that everything is included. This includes taking stock of all assets—monetary or physical, which can be substantial for some estates.

 

Applying for probate

Smaller districts may be quicker to get approved, but in a large district like Calgary, it takes anywhere from 4 to 9 weeks to review the application, depending on how busy the courts are at the time.

 

Dealing with potential problems

If there are inaccuracies or incomplete information that cause the application to get rejected, additional time will need to be spent fixing the issues and reapplying. Then the waiting starts all over again. This could happen several times if the documents continue to be incomplete or inaccurate. Working with an experienced probate lawyer and an estate planning lawyer will reduce the likelihood of rejection.

 

Obtaining a Clearance Certificate

The Canada Revenue Agency may require a Clearance Certificate even after the application is approved before assets can be distributed. It can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to receive the certificate.

 

Executing the will

This is the final step. Executing a will includes paying all creditors and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Depending on the complexity and size of the will and how many beneficiaries and creditors, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Creditors will need to be paid first so beneficiaries will have to wait till all creditors have been before they can receive any assets.

 

What You Need to Probate a Will

The executor will need to take stock of all assets and liabilities of the deceased in order to apply for probate. 

Assets: The list of assets can include everything the deceased owned, such as cash, investments, retirement accounts (RRSPs, CPP, TFSAs, etc.), bank accounts, physical items such as cars or other vehicles, jewellery, furniture, family heirlooms, real estate, insurance policies, stocks or other business investments.

Liabilities: The executor will also need to determine what the deceased owed to others. Yes, most debts are still owed even after a person dies. This may include debts such as credit cards, a mortgage, bills for utilities or other services, medical bills, and any outstanding loans.

 

Cost for Probating a Will

Fees for probating a will can vary. If you go it alone, you may think you’re saving money, but the time and related costs associated with issues on an application can add up and cause a lot of headaches. Hiring a lawyer will be an added cost but is highly recommended to help make the probate process run smoothly. The full cost will depend on the size of the estate and typically includes lawyer fees, application fees, and court filing fees, as well as GST. You will want to consider working with a law firm that’s upfront about their fees for probating a will so you know your costs ahead of time. 

 

Get Help With the Probate Process from a Lawyer You Can Trust

It’s important to work with a probate lawyer that will be there to guide you through the probate process during this difficult time. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your situation.

The housing market in Canada has seen some fluctuations recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With record low interest rates, more people, including many of the younger generations, are taking advantage of this opportunity to purchase their first home.

But how do you buy a house? If you are new to buying real estate — specifically in Calgary and Kelowna — you may not know where to start. We’ve pulled together a step by step guide for buying a home so you can close with confidence. 

 

Step 1: Get Prepared and Organized

Pay down your debts 

Existing debts can have an impact on your home buying journey. Lowering your debt levels can have positive impacts on your credit score, your debt service ratios, and how much your lender will lend you. 

Check your credit score 

Checking your credit rating allows you to see where you may fall on the scale before submitting a mortgage application.

Documentation

During the process there will be documents requested that you will need to provide including:

  • Government-issued photo identification
  • Proof of employment and income
  • Proof of a down payment and where it will come from
  • Other sources of income like investments or business income
  • Savings and investment statements for the past 90 days
  • If you are planning to use the Home Buyer’s Plan, proof of withdrawal from your RRSP
  • If you are using a financial gift from a family member, you’ll need a letter stating the gift is not a loan
  • A voided cheque
  • An inventory of all other debts and assets like cars and car loans

 

Step 2: Get a Real Estate Lawyer 

A real estate lawyer provides legal counsel along the process of buying a home. They can help you at all stages of the process including:

  • Helping you to apply for a mortgage
  • Answering questions you may have during the process 
  • Reviewing documents, such as the purchase agreement and certificate of title
  • Protecting you legally
  • Finding resolutions for unexpected delays or added expenses
  • Ensuring that the transaction is handled in a timely manner

You may be asking yourself, do I really need a real estate lawyer? Yes, yes you do. 

In fact, in Calgary, and in all of Alberta, you are required to consult with a lawyer when buying a home. A lawyer will ensure that everything is legally binding when transferring property. And with the competitive market in Kelowna, it’s highly recommended to work with a real estate lawyer to gain a competitive edge.

Check out our tips on how find a good real estate lawyer and what questions you should be asking.

 

Step 3: Get Pre-Approved

This step is not mandatory, but it’s strongly recommended to understand exactly how much you can afford. This process is free (aside from your time) and it also provides you with:

  • The opportunity to explore all the rates and lenders available
  • Knowing the maximum amount of a mortgage you could qualify for
  • Your estimated mortgage payments
  • A locked-in interest rate for 60 to 120 days, depending on the lender

Note: Mortgage pre-approval does not guarantee financing when you submit an offer.

 

Step 4: Get house-hunting! (the fun part)

At this stage, it’s highly recommended to find and work with a realtor. They are the experts and a great resource to help with finding a home, making recommendations based on your needs, and booking showings (in fact, some sellers may not schedule bookings without an agent!) 

When searching for a house, there are several things to consider:

  • Location: where and what type of community do you want to live in? Do they have good schools? Close to transportation? What are the demographics? Crime rate? 
  • Type: What type of house are you looking for? Single Family? Row or Townhouse? Condo
  • Size: How much space do you need? How many bedrooms do you need?
  • Features: What are your must-haves in a home? What are nice-to-haves? 
  • Expenses: What would your monthly expenses be? Strata fees? 
  • Future: What will you need for the future? More bedrooms? A nanny suite? 

Take your time to do your research and don’t allow yourself to feel rushed or pressured into any quick decisions. However, in this competitive environment, you also have to be prepared to move quickly.

 

Step 5: Get in your offer, and seal the deal!

You found your dream home and now it’s time to make it yours! Working with your realtor and real estate lawyer, submit an offer to purchase. This will include the price you are willing to pay, any subjects (such as financing and inspection), as well as your closing date (when you get the keys). This stage you may go back and forth on revising your offer or it may get accepted. Once your offer is accepted, you will send the seller your deposit and arrange to finalize your financing and set up a home inspection. 

This step usually takes 30 days or more, based on the closing date in your offer. Once everything is completed, your real estate agent will hand you your keys and you are officially a home-owner!

Now that you know what to consider, it’s time to start looking for an experienced real estate lawyer in Calgary or Kelowna. One80 Law’s legal team has the real estate law experience you need.

Book a free consultation today to discuss your home purchase and how we can help you buy the home of your dreams!

For first-time homebuyers who can’t afford a large down payment and meet the criteria, the First-time Home Buyers Incentive (FTHBI) is available from the Government of Canada. 

This incentive is a really useful way to help you get into the housing market and there’s some important changes coming this year to know about. 

What is the first-time home buyers incentive? 

The first-time home buyers incentive is a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada. The offer terms depend on the type of property you’re buying:

  • If buying an existing home, the government will offer 5% of the purchase price to put towards a down payment. 
  • If you’re buying a newly constructed home, the incentive can increase to 10%. 

The incentive allows you to borrow a percentage of the purchase price which in turn, reduces your monthly mortgage repayments. The government incentive is like a second mortgage and needs to be repaid. The incentive is payable either when the home is sold, or after 25 years. 

An example of how the FTHBI works: 

Note that these are example scenarios. Your specific situation may differ. 

Jacob is a first time home buyer and has found a new property to buy for $400,000. He receives the FTHBI of 10% (or $40,000). Jacob doesn’t need to borrow as much money so his mortgage repayment is $228 less per month. 

After 5 years, Jacob sells the property. The value of the property is now $420,000 meaning that he pays back $42,000 to the government for the incentive. 

For more calculations of how FTHBI works in different situations, the Government of Canada’s National Housing Strategy website contains useful examples. 

Who is eligible for the first time home buyer incentive? 

There is a range of qualifying criteria which include: 

  • That you have never purchased a home before,
  • You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident who is authorized to work in Canada,
  • You must be buying the home for you to live in,
  • Your annual income doesn’t exceed $120,000.

In recent news, the government has announced the income threshold will be increasing in spring 2021 to $150,000. Further changes to FTHBI are discussed below. 

To check if you’re currently eligible and to use the calculator, check the National Housing Strategy website. 

Changes coming this year to help even more first time buyers

In December 2020, changes were announced to the FTHBI which are expected to come into effect this spring. 

  • The income threshold is being increased to $150,000. 
  • The home price is also increasing to 4.5 times household income.  This will increase the maximum home price to around $722,000 which may be helpful to some first time buyers in expensive cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary.

What are the next steps? 

Are you considering buying your first home? We recommend booking a consultation with us to discuss your home purchase and how we can help. 

We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask your real estate lawyer if you’re shopping around. You may also find our blog post on lawyer’s fees when buying a home useful to know what you’re paying for. 

Happy house hunting!

A real estate lawyer will be a required part of your real estate transaction. But do you really need to hire a lawyer? Can you get by without one? What if the other party of the transaction already has one?

Here’s what you need to know about the role of a real estate lawyer during your home purchase or sale. 

Why Should You Hire a Real Estate Lawyer?

First, let’s talk about why you need a real estate lawyer. In Calgary, and in all of Alberta, you are required to consult with a lawyer when buying a home. A lawyer will ensure that everything is legally binding when transferring property. When selling or refinancing a home, it’s not required to consult with a lawyer, but doing so will help protect your interests and give you guidance through important details and legal documents.

What Exactly Does A Real Estate Lawyer Do?

Whether you are buying, selling or refinancing your home, a real estate lawyer provides legal counsel along the way. The services offered vary depending on which of the three scenarios you fall under.

When Buying a Home

When you are purchasing a new home, a real estate lawyer will do the following:

  • Review all documents, which can include: 
    • Purchase Agreement: Ensure the proper disclosures associated with the property are included and advise you on any conflicting issues that arise between you and the seller
    • Certificate of Title: Perform a title search and ensure the seller is the current owner of the property and that there are no liens or outstanding permits on the home
    • Real Property Report: Review all items listed to ensure all items on the property comply with local laws and explain what is included
  • Gather all the required documents and information from you to help you apply for a mortgage 
  • Walk through all documents during the process and answer questions 
  • Advise you on changes to make in agreements to protect you legally and identify potential problems with an agreement
  • Find resolutions for unexpected delays or added expenses
  • Ensure that the transaction is handled in a timely manner

When Selling Your Home

When selling a home, there are many things that could potentially go wrong so it’s best to consult a lawyer who specializes in real estate to help you through the process.

A real estate agent will typically:

  • Explain all documents involved in the sale of your home and answer your questions
  • Prepare and review all legal documents required by the seller, which may include:
    • Listing Agreement: This can include determining which type of listing agreement to choose and preparing the contract with the real estate broker
    • Purchase and Sale Agreement: Ensuring all relevant disclosures are included and advise you on any conflicting issues that arise between you and the buyer
  • Offer: Set or review conditions when receiving an offer
  • Provide statement of adjustments for items including:
    • Property tax
    • Condo fees
    • HOA (homeowners association) dues
  • Complete discharge of your responsibilities as the seller in relation to the property
  • Ensure the full amount for the sale of the property have gone through before delivering the title and keys to the buyer
  • Payout and closing of any mortgage and real estate commissions
  • Ensure timely delivery of closing funds 

When Refinancing Your Home

When refinancing your home, you can entrust a lawyer to:

  • Explain all documents involved in refinancing your home and answer your questions
  • Review of all documents related to your refinancing, including lender instructions
  • Gather and prepare all the required documents and information from you to help you apply for a mortgage 

Work With an Experienced Real Estate Lawyer

Your home is one of the most significant financial investments you can make. Don’t trust legal advice from just anyone or hope that the other party’s lawyer has your best interest at heart. One80 Law’s legal team has the real estate law experience you need. Book a consultation today.

Buying, selling or refinancing a home can be stressful. Purchase agreements and mortgage documents contain legal jargon that’s difficult for most people to understand. When it comes to your home, you want to make sure you’re protected and that you’re not skimming over any fine print or legalese that could have serious ramifications in the long run. You don’t want to make a mistake out of ignorance or be left in the dark about what you’re actually agreeing to. 

A real estate lawyer (REL) can help you understand legal documents and make sure you are considering all the legal ramifications along the way. You want to make sure you choose the right Calgary real estate lawyer that has experience with the type of property you’re purchasing and that will be available when you need them. 

How to Find a Good Real Estate Lawyer

There are many great lawyers out there in Calgary. Here’s how you can find the right one for you. 

  1. Ask friends and colleagues that you trust for a referral. They’ll let you know who they’ve enjoyed working with and who they haven’t. 
  2. Do some Google searches. A solid online presence, including a website with information about their services and pricing can help you get an idea of their personality and their firm’s offerings.  
  3. Clear explanation of the services offered and fees. Ideally this is on the website so you don’t have to call around, but you will want to be clear on their prices before starting an engagement.
  4. Check their online reviews. A few bad reviews are inevitable but the majority should be positive.  
  5. Check their expertise and years of experience in real estate law in your province.
  6. Have a quick chat and make sure you get a good vibe. Easy communication will make a huge difference. 

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a REL

When it comes to selecting a real estate lawyer, it’s critical to ask the right questions in order to decide which lawyer is the best for you. To begin, find out how long they’ve been practicing real estate law and ask about their pricing model and how much their fees are. Read “What Questions Should I Ask My Real Estate Lawyer?” for more questions you should be asking.

Know Your Budget & Ask About Fees

Real estate lawyers charge different fees and have different pricing models. Some charge by the hour and others charge a flat fee for specific services. There are many things included in their services as mentioned above, but their fees can also include time to speak with other lawyers, real estate agents, banks about mortgage lending and other individuals involved in the sale or refinancing of a home. If a lawyer charges by the hour, that time can add up quickly so it’s important to know upfront what is too much or to be aware of pricing that isn’t transparent.

You can expect to spend more on average for a lawyer when purchasing a home than you would for selling or refinancing. Legal fees for a real estate lawyer in Calgary vary from less than $1,000 to more than $3,000, depending on the value of your home. If you are being charged hourly, you could spend well over $3,000 in some cases. That can be a significant sum of money for the average home buyer. For most home buyers, a flat fee is the best option so you know exactly how much you will have to pay.

Warning Signs You Should Look For

Most lawyers out there do a good job and will be a good fit for your real estate transaction. However, if you end up with a lawyer that you don’t get along with or who doesn’t know what they’re doing, it can end up dragging things out, increasing your costs, or potentially having to find a new lawyer to finish the transaction. 

Here are some warning signs to look for that can help you avoid those snags before they happen.

  • Poor communication – if you have a hard time getting in touch with a lawyer or they don’t have an easy way to communicate with you, it might be a sign that you’re in for difficult communicating throughout the process. 
  • No (or poor) online presence or reviews –  a website, social profiles and online reviews (with a lot of good reviews) are all helpful to get information on a law firm’s services and pricing, and to read about previous clients’ experiences. If a law firm doesn’t have a website or a presence elsewhere online, it can be hard to know what you’re getting into. Inversely, if they have a lot of bad reviews this is a sign that you could have a poor experience as well. A few negative reviews is often unavoidable, but if they have more bad than good you should probably keep looking.
  • Not much experience in real estate, in your city or with your types of property – if a lawyer has little experience in real estate law this should be an immediate red flag. Lawyers with years of experience in real estate law will have dealt with more of those ‘unusual’ situations and will use that experience to help you identify and avoid them. If your property is commercial, multi-family or has special considerations you’ll want to make sure your lawyer is well versed in those, too.  
  • Talks over you or down to you – legal jargon can be hard to understand but it can be presented and discussed with you in ‘plain English’ so you are clear with the implications. If your potential lawyer doesn’t communicate your documents to you in a way that allows you to understand the agreements you’re signing, the process will be very stressful. 

Now that you know what to consider, it’s time to start looking for an experienced real estate lawyer. We have years of experience with the Calgary real estate market and are here to help. Email One80 Law or call us to set up a free consultation today!

A power of attorney is a powerful legal document – the kind that people don’t realise they need until it’s too late. To help you, we’ve put together the key pieces of information you should know about a power of attorney and the implications of setting one up.  

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (PoA) is a legal document which allows you to give control to another person to manage your money and property. Some important things to know about the power of attorney: 

  • It is only valid if you are mentally capable at the time you signed it
  • If you do not have mental capacity, it can be signed by two medical practitioners (usually physicians)
  • It is only valid while you are alive
  • You can appoint more than one person to be your attorney 

When Would You Need a Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney allows someone to easily take care of your affairs while you aren’t physically in the country. So it might be useful to have a PoA in place if you are intending to move overseas, or if you travel a lot with work. 

For example, military personnel often set up powers of attorney to take care of their business while on deployment. 

When it comes to setting up a PoA, the most important consideration is to appoint someone you trust. That might be a close friend, your spouse or a family member – whatever their relation to you, it should be someone who is responsible with money that you can rely on. You should speak to them about appointing them as your attorney before you do it, so that they can agree. 

Who Should Have a Power of Attorney

We recommend that everyone consider whether a PoA is relevant for them. Particularly in the case of an enduring power of attorney (which remains valid even if you lose mental capacity), your family members or loved ones will appreciate that you had the foresight to put one in place in such a stressful situation. 

There are two kinds of power of attorney:

  1. General power of attorney – valid only while you are mentally capable. This might be suitable if you are traveling, moving overseas or have a lot of business affairs to handle and want to appoint someone to help. However, if something happens to you, and you become incapable of managing your affairs, it will no longer be valid. 
  2. Enduring power of attorney – remains valid if you become unwell or incapable of managing your affairs. If you became incapacitated suddenly and did not have an enduring power of attorney in place, someone would have to apply to the court to manage your money and property.

Your own personal circumstances will help decide which one is relevant for you – please contact us for an appointment and we can discuss this with you. In either case, if you die, the power of attorney is no longer valid. 

What If a Power of Attorney Isn’t Right for Me? 

If you want to ensure that you have yourself covered to allow someone else to manage your affairs for you, but you’re not ready to appoint a power of attorney, there are other legal options available. For example, you could set up a joint bank account with the person and let them have co-sign powers of the account. We recommended that you get legal advice specific to your situation to help you make the right decision. 

How to Set Up Your Power of Attorney

Every person, and every situation is different. This is why we recommend booking a consultation with us to discuss your specific needs. We can help protect your money and property in the years to come with the proper legal documentation. 

Our power of attorneys are $299 for one person or $349 for a couple. Our fixed fees mean that you’ll always know exactly what the cost of the work will be, with no hidden surprises. 

(Please note that fees do not include GST)

 

Find out more about putting a power of attorney in place today

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