We have comprehensive understanding of transactional real estate law in British Columbia, with more than 90,000 successful files completed for clients so whether you are buying, selling or re-financing a mortgage, it’s our job to make this process easy to understand and navigate.
Purchase of Property
Purchasing a property can be a stressful endeavour but it doesn’t have to be. You should contact your lawyer as early as possible in the buying process, especially before you sign a Purchase Agreement.
Ideally, it’s advisable to have your lawyer review the purchase agreement either before you sign it or before it becomes firm and binding. However, in the real world, this is seldom the case. We will review your existing contract with a view to ensuring that it is operable to facilitate the intended transaction.
In addition, our services will include, with case-specific variance; obtaining copies of any non-financial charges to remain on title which you wish us to review; investigating the property and performing the necessary due diligence steps; conducting a title search; obtaining municipal tax information and any additional information necessary; preparing the Statement of Adjustments; advising on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and/or Property Transfer Tax (PTT); title insuring your purchase and registering the title transfer at the BC Land Title Office.
With nearly 30 years experience, you are in good hands. We lead you transparently through the entire process to make your property purchase easy, dependable and secure.
Contact us to discuss your case or schedule an appointment.
Sale of Property
Selling your property and need a REALTOR®? Call us for a referral.
Whether you are selling your property with or without a registered realtor, it’s is a good idea to have a real estate lawyer from the very beginning. Contact us today.
If you decide to retain our services without a REALTOR®, the cost is considerably less than the commission usually paid to a real estate company and you have the peace of mind of knowing that your lawyer is taking care of all the details and preparing the documents you need. We can advise you on setting the right price for your home, help you reach and qualify prospective buyers, advise what disclosures you have to make and draft the conveyance documents.
Our Sale of Property services include, subject to case-specific variance, reviewing the contract and the terms of the sale; conducting a review of title; obtaining pay out statements of any existing financial charges; meeting with you to review and execute Vendor’s Statement of Adjustments, Land Transfer, GST forms and Order and Direction to disburse sale proceeds; receiving the sale proceeds from the buyer; confirming real estate commission and clearing any financial charges from title at the BC Land Title Office.
Special considerations need to be made for non-resident Sellers and we make sure these are dealt with at the outset to avoid problems at the completion date.
We support and advise you every step of the way to make this a smooth, transparent and reliable process. Contact us to discuss and schedule an appointment.
Refinancing your home should be a fairly straightforward process. When you refinance, your existing mortgage is paid off and replaced with a new, usually larger one.
Our Mortgage Re-financing services include referring borrowers to banks, credit unions or private lenders; explaining the terms of their financing; preparing, reviewing and signing documents for secured loans; filing and discharging mortgages at the BC Land Title Office; filing and discharging financing statements at the BC Personal Property Registry; receiving money from banks, credit unions or private lenders and disbursing the proceeds.
We are here to answer your questions. You can also contact us for a Lender or Mortgage Broker recommendation.
Review of Pre-Sale Contracts
In today’s market many buyers opt to buy “pre-sale” strata units. These sales are authorized under the Real Estate Development and Marketing Act of BC. In many cases the property may literally be a hole in the ground to be completed a year or more in the future, provided that the development goes ultimately goes ahead.
What are the pros and cons of buying a pre-sale?
- Small deposit or series of deposits over a period of time;
- Long closing which allows buyer time to save additional funds in the interim;
- Ability to upgrade the unit’s features in advance of completion;
- Property may increase in value by the time the buyer completes the sale;
- Can rescind the purchase agreement for up to one week after signing it;
- New Home Warranty;
- Ability to assign (“flip”) the contract before the completion date;
- Very complicated, one-sided purchase agreement (solely in favor of the developer);
- Lengthy, complex Disclosure Statement;
- Property value can DECREASE prior to the completion date;
- Interest rates can INCREASE prior to the completion date;
- Buyer’s financial condition could deteriorate prior to completion date (lay-offs, cutbacks on hours, illness etc.);
- Mortgage rate-holds can expire;
- Completion date is a moving target solely at the discretion of the developer;
- Buyer is liable for all of the developer’s losses if he fails to complete (if the deposit doesn’t cover the loss);
- Buyer is entitled only to get his deposit back if developer fails to complete;
- Developer has considerable discretion to change materials, layout of unit, size of unit;
- If the finished product is not satisfactory, there is little recourse;
- New Home Warranty is limited to $100,000 on any strata property;
- Buyer can’t rely on any promises, representations, warranties, sales brochures, mock ups, marketing materials or anything else unless they are expressly included in the contract of purchase;
Many thousands of presales have completed in BC over the past 15 years. Except for 2007-08, the finished product has almost always been worth more than the buyer originally paid for it. However, as prices have gone straight up now since 2008, one wonders whether the market is due for a correction. This risk is exacerbated by a long and uncertain completion date.
In addition, notwithstanding that the prices keep going up (cities outside of Vancouver are pushing $700-1000 sq./ft. costs) the quality and building materials used in new construction seem to be going down.
As presale strata units are starting at $1200/sq./ft. in Vancouver, it makes sense to have your lawyer review your contract within the aforementioned rescission period to ensure that you are fully aware of the risks of purchasing a presale strata. Once you understand the risks you can make an informed business decision as to whether you wish to make the purchase or not.
- Most buyers don’t use their own realtor to assist them with a pre-sale purchase. It is essential that buyers engage their own realtor to represent them (the realtor can still get a commission from the developer, but they represent only the buyer’s interest). The realtor or sales person on site at the display suite represents only the developer’s interest.
- Most buyers don’t use their own independent lawyer on the purchase. Often the developer will provide a list of “approved lawyers” with an ostensibly discounted legal package for buyers. When something goes awry on the purchase, the lawyer is in an immediate conflict of interest as he is legally bound to represent the buyer’s interest but he is beholden to the developer for more referrals on many more transactions. Always retain an independent lawyer.
- Most buyers don’t have the contract of purchase and disclosure statement reviewed by a lawyer within the rescission period. This is because they don’t want to spend $500-1000 to fully understand the risks on a $500,000-1,000,000 purchase. Always get the contract reviewed by your lawyer within the 7 day rescission period.
We have acted on hundreds of pre-sale contracts (including many in the 2007-2008 downturn when buyers were literally “losing their shirts”), so we are able to provide our clients with the necessary legal advice to allow them to make an informed, intelligent business decision to buy (or not) a presale strata unit.
Clients with liquid funds (anywhere between $20,000 – $1,000,000) may loan them to third parties through our firm’s Private Lending program for a rate of return which is far superior to the rates offered by banks (generally in the 8-12% range).
Such loans are secured by first or second priority registered mortgages and are normally for a one year term, but may on occasion be extended (for a renewal fee) for an additional year or two at the lender’s discretion.
The loans are underwritten much the same way that banks underwrite their loans, however the emphasis is on EQUITY not INCOME. In other words, our lenders are more concerned about the value of the borrower’s net ownership interest (“equity”) than his or her income.
Returns: 8 – 12% per annum
Term: 1 year
Amortization: interest only
Security: registered mortgage
Priority: first or second charge
Loan Amount: $20,000 – $1,000,000
Early payout penalty: 3 months interest
Renewal: At lender’s discretion
In addition, clients may also lend funds in their RRSPs provided that the lenders administering their accounts permit arm’s length mortgage loans. At present, Canadian Western Trust and North Shore Credit Union both provide this option in their self-directed RRSP plans.
Confirmation that the property has appropriate fire insurance with the client as a loss payee is also part of the underwriting process. Thus, if the property is destroyed, it will either get rebuilt (and the security remains in place on the new structure) or the lender has a claim on the insurance proceeds in priority to the borrower.
Finding Loans: We source these through our network of mortgage brokers (who may receive a fee for obtaining a suita ble borrower).
Private lending may not for everyone, but we suggest that it could certainly help to diversify your investment portfolio (i.e. 10 -20% of current investments). Feel free to contact us for further information.
Why referring clients to us makes good business sense:
- We are accessible 24/7 to answer your questions by cell, text & email (even after hours & weekends) at no charge to you –whether the file goes ahead or not;
- We spend time with your clients (usually about an hour) making sure that they completely understand what they are signing (most lawyers and notaries spend about fifteen minutes and the clients can’t remember their name the next day);
- On average, 85% of our ongoing files involve repeat clients –so our service model definitely works. That reflects back favorably on YOU;
- We care whether the clients come back as much as you do;
- Clients are free to come back to us with questions, concerns or to retrieve copies of documents from their files for as long as they own the property at no additional charge;
- White Rock/South Surrey office accommodates after hours and home appointments (in fact the majority of clients in this office see us between 6 – 7:00 p.m.) That’s a big convenience for your clients;
- Special needs on a particular file? Let us know and we will do our best to accommodate them!
Satisfied with our services? Our major source of legal work is repeat clients and referrals, so we would be pleased to work for you again and we hope that you will recommend our services to friends and family.