After you have found your new home and arranged financing, you will need to hire a Lawyer or Notary to assist you with the legal procedure for completing your purchase.  In British Columbia, the Buyer’s Lawyer or Notary does most of the work, including preparing the documents to transfer the property and paying the real estate commissions owing on behalf of the Seller.

We have broken down the legal procedure into the following 8 steps:

1.  Contact a Lawyer or Notary to discuss the terms of your Contract of Purchase and Sale. 

Once there is a Contract of Purchase and Sale and all subjects have been removed and there is a Mortgage commitment where all conditions have been met (if applicable), the Realtor sends the Contract and the Lender sends Mortgage instructions to our office.

We review the Contract of Purchase and Sale to ensure that it represents your intentions and expectations, and that it is in proper form.  We also advise on all aspects of the transaction, procedure and timing for completing the transfer.   

At this stage, you will also need to decide how you want to hold the property if you are purchasing it with others.  You can hold it as “joint tenants” where each jointly owns 100% of the property and on the death of one of the owners, the property automatically passes to the other(s).  Alternately, you can hold the property as “tenants in common” where each owner owns a fixed percentage and on the death of one of the owners, the owner’s interest passes to his or her estate.

We will then send you a written confirmation of our instructions to act on your behalf.

2.      The Lawyer or Notary will search the Title, review the Charges that will remain on title, obtain municipal tax information, and gather any other information required. Here is a list of the searches that are undertaken:

  • We compare the information in the Contract of Purchase and Sale with the information on the Title to ensure that the Seller is the registered owner of the property and that the property’s legal description on title is the same as the one in the Contract. 
  • We review the charges on the property – such as, mortgages, any caveats, judgements, liens – that will need to be discharged by the Seller before closing.
  • We also go through any statutory rights of way and easements that may impair the client’s use of the property, such as plans to build a garage or swimming pool.
  • We contact the city or municipality to confirm that all taxes are paid up to date.  Responsibility for paying real property taxes follows the property, rather than the owner so it is important to ensure that the Seller has paid them. 
  • For strata properties (generally condos and townhomes), we contact the strata company or council to confirm that strata fees are paid up to date and review any special assessments outstanding.  We obtain a Form F Certificate of Payment and a Form B Information Certificate.
  • We order a Survey Certificate or Title Insurance if required by the Lender and instructed by the client.
  • We also confirm that there is insurance in place on the property.  Insurance should always be in place in the name of the Purchaser before the Seller is paid the sale proceeds. 

3.      The Lawyer or Notary prepares the closing documents including the Form A Freehold Transfer, Form B Mortgage and other mortgage documents (if applicable), Buyer’s Statement of Adjustments, Property Transfer Tax Form, Seller’s Statement of Adjustments, and other conveyancing documents that apply to the transaction. 

Your Lawyer or Notary forwards the Form A Freehold Transfer, 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.

4.      Signing Day. Your Lawyer or Notary will arrange a meeting with you one to three days before closing to sign the documents and deliver the balance of the down payment.  We email drafts of these documents to our clients prior to meeting with them. 

5.      We review the signed Seller’s documents and perform a pre-registration search to ensure there have been no new charges registered against the property since the last search.  

6.      Closing Day.  We register the transfer, the property transfer tax form, and mortgage documents.    A post-registration search is performed to confirm that there have been no other applications registered in the Land Title Office against the property. Once we have received confirmation, we advise the Buyer, Seller’s Lawyer, and Realtors that the transfer is complete.  We arrange for the Seller’s Lawyer to pick up the funds and deliver them on an undertaking that they will be used to pay any existing mortgages, outstanding taxes and any other applicable charges. 

7.      You will receive the keys from your realtor on the possession date and can move in on that date.

8.      We send a final reporting letter with copies of all the registered documents to our client and any lenders.

There are also post completion steps where the seller is discharging a mortgage or charge on the property.  The Seller’s Lawyer sends the Buyer’s Lawyer proof and confirmation that they have paid out the existing charges and then delivers the balance of the funds to the Seller.   The Buyer’s Lawyer will order a State of Title Certificate – a document signed by the Registrar of the Land Title Office that certifies that the property is owned by the new Buyer – and deliver a copy to the Buyer (now registered owner) and send the original to the Lender.