A TYPICAL REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

There are many people involved to bring the purchase and sale of Property to a successful conclusion including the Seller, Buyer, Listing Realtor, Selling Realtor, Selling Brokerage, Listing Brokerage, Seller’s Lawyer, Buyer’s Lawyer, Mortgage Broker, Lender, Appraiser, Home Inspector, Insurance Agent, Property Managers and all of their staff.

I have prepared this based on an actual transactions where I acted for the Buyer and Lender respecting a SINGLE FAMILY DETACHED HOME. Every Real Estate Transaction is different but generally follows what is outlined herein.

PLEASE NOTE: British Columbia has basically what is an instantaneous registration system, so that virtually every BC purchase completes ON TIME on the Closing Date. In BC purchases, we do not have the issue of having to buy Title Insurance or use Protocol Closings to complete deals on time.

ALSO PLEASE NOTE:  IF YOU ARE BUYING AND SELLING A HOME AT BASICALLY THE SAME TIME, REVIEW THE “BRIDGE FINANCING” WEB PAGE TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOU NEED TO ARRANGE BRIDGE FINANCING.

The following describes a typical purchase and sale of a single family detached home in British Columbia, Canada.

THERE ARE BASICALLY FOUR MAIN AREAS INVOLVED:

1. From Listing of the Property to Unconditional Offer:

  • The Sellers decide that they are going to sell their Property and go to talk to the Seller’s Realtor.
  • The Sellers and the Seller’s Realtor discuss the situation and assuming they are in agreement on the Selling Price, Commission and other terms, enter into a Listing Agreement. The Seller should also advise the Seller’s Realtor of any issues or problems they are aware of such as an encroachment of a fence.
  • The Seller’s Realtor then develops a marketing plan for the Property which includes holding an open house for all the Realtors in the area, advising all of his colleagues in the office about the Property that has just come on the market, calling potential purchasers advising them that the Property is for sale, preparing advertising materials and placing a For Sale sign on the Property.
  • Depending upon how active the market is, this phase can be as short as a day until a point in time where nothing is happening and the Property is taken off the market. There are many reasons why some properties don’t sell, but the main reason is that the Seller is asking too much money for the Property.
  • Then one day, there is an Offer to Purchase the Property. A Buyer’s Realtor has a client who is interested in purchasing the Property and has asked the Buyer’s Realtor to prepare the Offer to Purchase and present it to the Seller’s Realtor. There really is no need for the Buyers to retain the Buyer’s Lawyer at this time unless there is something unusual with the Property. It is generally preferable to obtain an accepted Offer first; in other words, see if you can get the Property for the price you are willing to pay and insert a Subject To Clause indicating that the Offer needs to be reviewed and approved by the Buyer’s Lawyer if you have some concerns.
  • The Sellers and Buyers can go back and forth many times respecting counter-offers and further counter-offers until they reach agreement on the terms of the Contract. Most Offers to Purchase have Subject To Clauses which need to be satisfied. The Buyer’s and Seller’s Lawyers will be retained once all of the Subject To Clauses have been removed. If there is a Subject To Clause respecting “Buyer’s Lawyer’s approval”, then the Buyer’s Lawyer will need to be retained earlier. When all of the Subject To Clauses have been satisfied, there is a Firm Deal.
  • In British Columbia, the Buyer’s Lawyer does most of the work, including preparing all of the documents necessary and paying the real estate commissions due on behalf of the Seller, so that the Seller’s Legal Fees (fees, disbursements and GST) for a typical sale should be approximately $650, however check this with your representative. The Seller can calculate approximately how much money they will ultimately receive from the sale of the Property, after deducting their costs such as Legal Fees, Commissions and Adjustments.
  • The Buyer should expect to pay Legal Fees (fees, disbursements and GST) for a typical purchase of approximately $1,250. The Buyer can calculate approximately how much money they will ultimately need for the purchase of the Property, after adding their costs such as Legal Fees and Adjustments.

2. Completing the Purchase and Sale:

Once there is a Firm Deal, the Listing Real Estate Company prepares and forwards to the Buyer’s Lawyer a letter confirming that you have been asked to act for the Buyers, outlining the Commission due on the Transaction and enclosing a copy of the Contract.

WHAT DOES THE BUYER’S LAWYER DO?

  • reviews the Instruction Letter and Contract
  • contacts the Buyers, confirms acting for the Buyers, confirms personal details, discusses any preliminary issues raised by the Contract, determines whether Bridge Financing is needed and arranged, opens Buyers file (very soon after Instruction Letter and Contract arrive)
  • orders a copy of the Title and any Charges that will be remaining on Title
  • advises Buyers of any concerns re Charges that will remain on Title; generally the existing Charges on Title are acceptable. (usually done at time of initial contact with Buyer)
  • reviews Mortgagee’s Instruction Letter
  • prepares the conveyancing documents including Form A – Transfer of Land, Form B – Mortgage and other Mortgage Documents, Buyer’s Statement of Adjustments, Seller’s Statement of Adjustments, Property Transfer Tax Form, Residency Certificate, GST Certificate and other conveyancing documents. In British Columbia, the Buyer’s Lawyer prepares all of the documents.
  • forwards the Form A Transfer of Land, Seller’s Statement of Adjustments and other Seller conveyancing documents to the Seller’s Lawyer for execution by the Seller and return to the Buyer’s Lawyer.
  • advises Buyers of Mortgagee’s insurance requirements, the amount of the Cash Shortfall See Buyer’s Statement of Adjustments AND when it is needed (Bank Draft) and arranges an appointment to sign the necessary documents (usually a week before the Closing Date)
  • Signing Day – reviews the whole transaction and documents with the Buyers and attends to the signing of all documents (usually a week before the Closing Date)
  • Cash Shortfall – is usually received a couple of days before the Closing Day. The Cash Shortfall must be with the Buyer’s Lawyer BEFORE the documents are submitted for registration.
  • ensures Property Insurance is obtained
  • registers over the Internet on the Closing Date OR forwards the Form A – Transfer of Land, Property Transfer Tax form, cheque for the Property Transfer Tax and Form B – Mortgage by courier to the Buyer’s Lawyer’s Land Title Registry Agents a few days before the Closing Date for registration.
  • requests mortgage funds from Mortgagee for Closing Date.
  • Closing Day, the documents are registered.
  • confirms “registration” on the Closing Date and advises the Buyer, Seller’s Lawyer and Realtors that the “Deal” has registered. On the Closing Day, there will be a “post-registration search” done which will record the registration numbers of the Form A – Transfer and Mortgage (if applicable) on the bottom of the current title. This is STAGE ONE of getting the title into the Buyer’s name. Based on this search, payment is made to the Seller’s Lawyer and possession of the property is given to the Buyer. The actual new title showing the Buyer as registered owner won’t be produced by the Land Title Office for one to two weeks. When the title is produced, the Seller’s Mortgage may still be registered on the title. This is STAGE TWO of getting the title into the Buyer’s name.
  • See also the section below on “Possession of the Property” and “Reporting on the Transaction”.


WHAT DOES THE SELLER’S LAWYER DO?

  • reviews the Contract
  • contacts the Sellers, confirms acting for the Sellers and discusses any preliminary issues raised by the Contract, opens Sellers file (very soon after Instruction Letter and Contract arrive)
  • orders a copy of the Title and details of Mortgages that the Seller must discharge
  • Contacts Mortgagees for discharge amounts and per diem rates of interest
  • coordinates with the Buyer’s Lawyer when the “conveyancing documents” will arrive
  • arranges for the Sellers to come in to the Office (usually a week before the Closing Date)
  • Signing Day – reviews the whole transaction with the Sellers, attends to the signing of all documents and advises the amount due to the Sellers from the sale of the Property. See Seller’s Statement of Adjustments (usually a week before the Closing Date)
  • forwards the Form A Transfer and other conveyancing documents to the Buyer’s Lawyer on the appropriate undertakings
  • obtains confirmation of registration from the Buyer’s Lawyer and advises Seller of closing of the transaction (on the Closing Day)
  • looks after discharging the Seller’s mortgage from title and advises the Buyer’s Lawyer when that has been done.
  • See also the section below on “Possession of the Property” and “Reporting on the Transaction”.
  • There is a constant interaction between the Buyer’s Lawyer and Seller’s Lawyer, their staff and others involved in the transaction in order to ensure that a Real Estate Transaction completes smoothly and on time.

3. Possession of the Property:

There will come a point in time when the Closing has been completed and now the Buyers wants Possession of the Property.

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE POSSESSION DATE?

  • The Buyer’s Lawyer has determined that he has satisfied the Seller’s Lawyer’s Undertakings or can satisfy them and that it is now appropriate to give the Buyer possession of the Property.
  • The Buyer’s Lawyer delivers his Trust Cheque to the Seller’s Lawyer in the amount due to the Seller as set out on the Seller’s Statement of Adjustments.
  • The Buyers and Buyer’s Realtor arrange with the Seller’s Realtor to obtain the keys to the property.
  • See also the section below on “Reporting on the Transaction”.

PLEASE NOTE: There can be many variations on the foregoing respecting the issues of Possession of the Property, release of the keys and the Walk Through, however the foregoing is the “normal” sequence of events. Please check with your Realtor as to what will be the actual procedure on the Closing Date.

4. Reporting on the Transaction:

Now that the Real Estate Transaction has closed, each of the Buyer’s Lawyer and Seller’s Lawyer must report to their respective clients and others involved in the transaction.

BUYER’S LAWYER:

  • Telephones the Buyers on the Closing Day and prepares an initial reporting letter to the Buyer advising that the transaction has completed and provides the Buyer with a copy of all of the relevant documents.
  • Prepares a reporting letter to the Lender advising that the transaction has completed and provides the Lender with a copy of all of their relevant documents including the Mortgage.
  • Pays the balance of Commission to the Realtors.
  • Orders a State of Title Certificate once the Seller’s Lawyer advises that the Seller’s Mortgage has been discharged from title.
  • Provides a final reporting letter when the State of Title Insurance is received from the Land Title Office. This is STAGE THREE of getting the title registered into the Buyer’s name and is the final step. Click Here to see a State of Title Certificate.

SELLER’S LAWYER:

  • Prepares a reporting letter to the Seller advising that the transaction has completed and provides the Seller with a copy of all of the relevant documents.
  • Forwards sufficient funds to the Seller’s Mortgagees to payout and have discharged the Seller’s Mortgage.
  • Advises the Buyer’s Lawyer when the Seller’s Mortgage is discharged.