W. J. MacDonald Law Corporation - Real Estate

Real Estate


We pay attention to your transaction and that means your transaction goes as smoothly as it can.  You will meet with a lawyer who will explain the legal impact of the documents you are signing and answer any questions you may have.  We have extensive experience in acting for buyers, sellers, and re-financing situations.

As part of our ongoing customer service we have provided some additional information regarding our real estate practice in British Columbia.  Feel free to read the information provided below so that you may better understand the real estate process in BC.  If you have questions, please give us a call and we would be more than happy to provide some assistance.  Please click here  for our contact information.

Buying Real Estate in BC - Click here

Selling Real Estate in BC - Click here




Buying a House

These are things you should consider when buying your house:

  1. Use a realtor.  Realtors can assist you in many ways and save you time and money.  They also have experience in writing the offer to purchase the property and may be able to prevent costly mistakes or oversights.

  2. If you have an opportunity, make it a condition of your offer that it be reviewed by your lawyer.

Here is the process you will go through:

  1. You and your realtor will negotiate the terms of the purchase of the property.

  2. Once the terms have been agreed by you and the seller, you will sign the agreement in its final form.

  3. Normally the contract will provide that within two business days, you need to provide your deposit -- your realtor will tell you who to write the cheque to.

  4. There will normally be conditions to the purchase such as financing or a home inspection.  Make sure that you are certain that these conditions are satisfied prior to waiving them.  If you don’t waive the conditions, the deal falls apart and you get your deposit back.  If you do waive the conditions, the deal is then “firm”.  That means that you have to complete the deal or be in breach of your contractual obligations as well as forfeit your deposit.

  5. Sometimes the agreement provides for an additional deposit once the deal is firm.  Sometimes an additional deposit is required by a specific date or sometimes there is no additional deposit at all.

  6. Once the deal is firm, your realtor will arrange to have all relevant documents sent to the lawyer you have decided to use.  Don’t be sceptical of lawyers who are recommended by the realtor.  Lawyers are obligated to act in your best interests no matter how they are introduced to you.

  7. Your bank will also need to know the name of your lawyer so that they can send mortgage instructions out to that person directly.

  8. If you have not yet spoken to your lawyer, your lawyer or an assistant will contact you to make sure that you want them to act for you.

  9. Your lawyer will get copies of the agreement for purchase from the realtor and mortgage instructions from the bank.  Your lawyer will then conduct searches on the property and review the agreement to determine the steps that need to be taken by their office.

  10. As soon as possible, you need to provide your lawyer with a description of how you want to be described on the title to the property.  If you are going to own the property with another person, you have two options.  One is to be registered as joint tenants.  This means that both people own the property together and if one of them should die, the property would transfer to the other person.  Your second option is to be registered as tenants in common.  This is more usually the case where you and the other person on title have contributed unequal amounts of money to the purchase of the property and are not married.  You can then be registered to reflect the contribution to the property such as one person having 30% and the other having 70%.  If one tenant in common dies, their interest would be transferred according to the wishes expressed in their Will.

  11. Your lawyer will prepare the necessary documents to be signed by the vendor and will send those to the vendors lawyer.

  12. At some point prior to the possession date, your lawyer will receive the signed transfer of land (something like a Bill of Sale for land) from the seller’s lawyer.  The transfer of land will transfer the property into your name at Land Titles.  The seller’s lawyer will impose a variety of trust conditions on your lawyer regarding how they can use that transfer of land however, since the seller has not received their money yet.

  13. You need to call your insurer and get insurance on the property beginning at midnight on the possession date  -  your lawyer will not be able to fund your mortgage without a binder letter from your insurer.

  14. You will need to meet with your lawyer, or a notary public in a location more convenient for you, approximately one week ahead of the possession date.  At that meeting, you will sign the necessary documents.  You will also need to give your lawyer all of the money you are putting down on the property at that time or at least two days prior to the closing date.  You will receive a buyer's 50A which includes, if possible, all amounts needed for you to close the transaction.  These will include your lawyer's fees and disbursements as well as the Property Transfer Tax payable to the British Columbia Government at 1% of the first $200K and 2% of the balance.

  15. Once your lawyer has received all the signed documents and your money, your lawyer will then send the transfer of land and your mortgage into Land Titles to be registered.  It is important that you get your lawyer signed documents at least four days ahead of time so that there are no difficulties on possession.

  16. On the possession date, you normally do a walk through the property to determine its condition while vacant.  At this point, though, you are obligated to complete the purchase of the property.  If there are deficiencies in the property which were not agreed to by you in the offer to purchase, you will be in a position to sue the seller for them.

  17. Once the property has been transferred into your name and the mortgage has been registered, your lawyer will be able to cash the mortgage money from the bank.  Once that has happened, your lawyer will send the purchase monies to the seller’s lawyer and release all of the money to the seller.

  18. Your lawyer will then report to (and bill) you and report to the mortgage company.

  19. Your lawyer will follow up to make sure that the seller’s lawyer keeps all of the promises they made to your lawyer to protect your interests.

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Selling a House

Things to consider when selling your house:

  1. While selling your home “FSBO” (for sale by owner) may seem an excellent way to save money, but unless you have knowledge of actual sale prices and have done a lot of research into proper pricing, or have a willing buyer set up already, the situation can quickly turn into a nightmare of hours of time invested by you with no timely return.  “Interested” potential buyers need to be properly qualified or may not show up when they have booked appointments and it does not take many hours of sitting at an “Open-House” before the money you are saving in commissions is consumed in time spent by you.  This is not to say that you can’t sell your home without a realtor, just be certain you know what you are getting into before you try!

  2. If you are selling your home “By Owner”, you will need to get a Real Estate purchase contract for the buyers to sign.  It is definitely in your best interests to include a written condition within the Agreement has to be reviewed and approved by your lawyer before the contract is binding on you.

  3. If you are selling through a Realtor, they will have a Listing Agreement for you to sign.  Make sure you understand your obligations under that Agreement.  It is very important to read it and ask questions about any wording or paragraphs you do not understand.  If you have any agreements about reducing commissions or not charging commissions on certain buyers who may already be interested, make sure you put it in this agreement.

  4. Your Realtor will market your property and assist you in negotiating the terms of sale with a Buyer.  Once the terms have been agreed to, you will sign the contract in final.  This means you now have a “Conditional Sale”, subject to the removal or waiver of any conditions.  Once the Buyer’s conditions and your conditions, if any, have been satisfied or waived, the contract is firm and binding and you are obligated to sell your house on the terms in the Agreement.

  5. You should be aware that you, as the Seller, make certain representations and promises in the Agreement.  MAKE SURE YOU CAN MEET YOUR OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE AGREEMENT.  Be aggressive about asking questions about things you don’t understand.  Note that you are not allowed to actively conceal deficiencies in the property – doing so can mean that the Buyer does not have to complete the transaction or can come after you for damages through legal proceedings!  This does not mean that you can’t paint the room to cover dings in the drywall but it does mean that you can’t paint the room to cover up the evidence of a leaky roof!

  6. Advise your Realtor the name, address, telephone and fax numbers for the lawyer you are using and your Realtor will get the documents to your lawyer.

  7. Your lawyer will then contact you to confirm that you want that person to act for you if you have not spoken to the law office directly.

  8. You will need to meet with your lawyer to sign the Transfer Form A documents for the property.  Your lawyer will also review the Statement of Adjustments with you at that time.

  9. Your lawyer will then prepare a letter sending the transfer papers to the Buyer’s lawyer upon numerous conditions that are designed to protect your interests.

  10. Your lawyer will get the funds from the Buyer’s lawyer and pay out any outstanding mortgage amount(s) or other charges against the property such as overdue taxes, utilities or strata fees.  Your lawyer pay you the balance of proceeds of the sale less any amount(s) owing under the lawyer’s bill.

  11. The lawyer will then get a discharge of any mortgage registered against the property that is not being assumed and register it at Land Titles on your behalf.  Once the discharge(s) have been registered, the lawyer will send a copy of the title to the property to the Buyer’s lawyer to complete the transaction.

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