As a real estate lawyer who goes above and beyond the call of duty, I’m here to help you navigate the road as we move towards the sale of your property. To help prepare you for the twists and turns of the next few weeks, I thought I should provide you with an outline of what to expect. Think of it as the Road Map to a Successful Sale. You may want to print this guide and post it in your home as a handy reminder.
Step 1 - We get busy on your behalf!
Now that you’ve retained me as your real estate lawyer, my office will be contacting the buyer’s lawyer and will begin working with him or her (gathering information, preparing documents, reviewing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, etc.) to effect the successful sale of your property. It is the job of the buyer’s lawyer to identify any obstacles to the sale and it is my job to work with you and your agent to resolve them.
Step 2 - We communicate with your mortgage lender
We will contact your bank (or mortgage lender) to find out the balance of the mortgage (how much you still owe) and any fee or penalty that the bank may charge you, the seller, to pay off the mortgage on closing. We will obtain mortgage payout statements and any other payout statements (e.g., tax liens, condo liens, notice of security interest etc.) needed to clear title.
Step 3 - Send us your property tax statement
As soon as possible, please provide us with your most recent property tax statement from the municipality, so that we can determine whether the buyer will owe you a reimbursement for taxes paid or vice-versa.
Step 3a - An extra step for condominium owners
If you are selling a condominium, you need to notify my office ASAP regarding the exact amount of your maintenance fees. We also need to know of any special assessments or any other extra charges over and above your normal fees that the condominium board and/or management company may have issued to you (e.g., for roof or elevator repairs).
Step 4 - Cancel property insurance
During this time, don’t forget to cancel the insurance for your soon-to-be former property. However, make sure the property is insured up till and including the closing date, even if you plan on vacating early.
Step 5 - Cancel utility hook-ups
Don’t forget to advise all the utility companies of the closing date, so that you are not left paying for someone else’s utility usage! Doing this sooner rather than later may result in more accurate final readings of your utility usage. Be aware that if you plan to vacate the premises early, you still need to keep the utilities active until closing.
Step 6 - Cancel pre-authorized payments
If you pay your property taxes (or any other bills) from your bank account through pre-authorized payments, don’t forget to contact your bank to cancel these payments as of the closing date. You are responsible to pay the taxes up until the day before closing, however, if you end up paying a bit too much or too little, we can make an adjustment on closing day. If you are selling a condominium, don’t forget to cancel pre-authorized payments of your maintenance fees.
Step 7 - Make your property available if buyer requests final walk-through
Some buyers like to have one final inspection of the property to ensure that it is still in the condition it was in when they last viewed it. If this happens, you are required to allow a single short access. If you have any concerns regarding access and a final inspection lease contact me directly via telephone.
Step 8 - We’ll call you to make an appointment
Two weeks prior to closing, my office will contact you to schedule an appointment with me to review and sign all final documents. The appointment is typically slated for one to three days prior to the closing date.
Step 9 - What to bring when you come to see me
When you meet with me, you need to bring a number of items, including but not limited to:
- two pieces of ID per person
- a key for the property
- a document showing the number of your mortgage account and/or line of credit account
- proof of any work that was required to be done on the property before closing.
As the closing date approaches, we will e-mail you a detailed list of what to bring with you and which types of ID are acceptable.
Step 10 - Closing day: Transferring funds and changing the title
The funds to pay for your property will be transferred to my office on the day of closing, after the buyer’s lawyer has received these funds from the buyer and the buyer's mortgage lender. After the funds are received at my office, the buyer’s lawyer and I must electronically change the title, naming the buyer as the new owner of the property. When it has come to a successful conclusion, we give the buyer’s lawyer the key and it is passed on to the buyer. My office also pays the real estate commission and your mortgage company.
Step 11 - Moving out
If at all possible, it’s best for all involved if you can move out the day before the closing date. (Imagine the chaos of two moving vans coming and going on the same day!) Technically, you are allowed to occupy the property till 5:59 p.m. on closing day but in my opinion, this is a recipe for headaches and potential conflict. I recommend moving sooner if it is possible to do so.
Step 12 - The moment you’ve been waiting for: Getting the cheque
As the seller’s lawyer, I do not have much control over the timing of this happy event since we are the last link in a chain. If the buyer gets lucky and the mortgage funds arrive at his or her lawyer’s office first thing in the morning, things will go a lot more quickly, but there is no guarantee of this. Normally , the sale proceedss are available on the day of closing, however if the transaction closes very late in the day then proceeds may not be available until the next business day.
Step 13 - Wrapping up
Roughly six to eight weeks after the closing date, my office will send you a link via email so that you can access your final report regarding the details of your sale.
I hope this e-mail has given you a clear idea of what to expect between now and the day you sell your property. More detailed information about some of these steps will be sent to you over the coming weeks. Please contact us, if you have any questions, by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 519-824-7100.
Mark F. Graham
Mark F. Graham
Barrister, Solicitor, Public Notary
Mark Graham Law Office Professional Corporation