When you’re thinking about buying a home, your first impulse is probably to contact a real estate agent or a broker.  They can be helpful, but they probably don’t understand the complex set of laws which govern real estate transactions in your area.  That’s why you need to work with a competent real estate lawyer, one who will review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, ensure that you’re in compliance with zoning laws, check for outstanding work orders, prepare mortgage documents, and more.

Choosing a lawyer

Of course, you want to find the best lawyer to work with, and that can be confusing.  If you’re looking for a skilled real estate lawyer in Oakville, Ontario, you could go the Yellow Pages.  Unfortunately, what you’ll find is a list of almost 250 lawyers, and scant information on how good any of them is.  So how do you find a lawyer you can trust?  Here are 5 tips to help you find the best lawyer for your real estate transaction:

Experience counts:  it’s important to hire a lawyer who specializes in real estate law, and that this is his or her principal area of practice.  You also need to know how many cases like yours the lawyer has handled and how many years he or she has been practicing real estate law.  Be sure your lawyer graduated from an accredited law school.

Get referrals:  get advice from friends and family members who have recently purchased a home.  Ask them what kind of experience they had with the real estate lawyer they employed and if they were satisfied.  Was the lawyer available to take their calls and meet with them when necessary?  Did they tell your friend upfront what their fees would be, and were there any billing surprises?  What did they like about the lawyer they used, and what problems, if any, cropped up?  If you’re working with a real estate agent, ask him or her to recommend good lawyers, and be sure to ask what they particularly like about those lawyers.

Check out their websites:  you can learn a lot from a law firm’s website, from both what’s there and what isn’t.  Does the website provide useful information?  The best firms will give you clear information about fees, provide answers to most frequently asked questions, and give you a list of the lawyers in their firm with years of experience and their principal area(s) of expertise and practice.

Schedule an initial consultation:  it’s important to meet with the lawyer face-to-face before you engage him or her.  This is your chance to get a “feel” for the lawyer to determine if the two of you will work well together.  You can also ask follow up questions to what you learned from their website.  Ask them how long they’ve been practicing, how many transactions similar to yours they typically handle each year, what specifically they will do for you and how much they will charge for those services.  You can also ask if they can give you the names of previous clients willing to serve as references.

Look for online reviews:  online reviews can be tricky, and some are more credible than others, but a good review site can be extremely helpful.  If you can find online reviews, be sure the website that publishes them is reputable.  The best sites, like ThreeBestRated, recommend the best businesses in Canada by type of business and city, and base reviews a wide spectrum of factors, from customer reviews to complaints to ratings and history.

To learn more about finding the best real estate lawyer for your home purchase, contact us today.

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