Toronto’s real estate market is one of those markets that, despite the recent drop in home sales province-wide, is still a coveted and competitive destination – especially in the downtown core.
Just as you need a real estate agent who is intimately familiar with the properties in its disparate downtown neighbourhoods, you also need to hire a real estate lawyer in downtown Toronto who understands its unique market and properties and knows what little things to look for that will keep you protected during a real estate transaction.
But in a city this size, and with this many options, simply knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. The following tips can make your life easier and guide you in making the right choice on such an important decision.
Experience is Key
If you’re ideal real estate lawyer is one that specializes in downtown transactions, look for indications on potential lawyers’ websites of how long they’ve been at their current location, how many years they’ve been in practice, how far back their customer reviews and/or blog posts go, etc. Also, confirm that the information on their website matches the information you can find on the Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer and Paralegal directory.
If a real estate lawyer has been servicing the downtown Toronto market for a while, they have likely seen it all, which is exactly what you want with so much at stake in such a fast market.
The Trust Factor
Considering the size of the transaction you need legal guidance with, the last thing you need to worry about is if you can trust your lawyer. Honesty, transparency and reliability are key indicators of someone’s trustworthiness, and lawyers are no different.
When speaking with real estate lawyers you may potentially hire, if you ever get the feeling that they are always telling you what you want to hear, i.e., they act as if your transaction will be a seamless walk in the park, this should raise alarm bells. Good lawyers always tell their clients all the potential risks and consequences involved, and many try to manage client expectations, not the opposite.
As for transparency, how transparent and upfront a lawyer is about their fees, billing structures payment schedules can be a good indication that they are trustworthy. Many real estate lawyers charge a flat fee, letting you know exactly what your costs will be and giving you the peace of mind that you won’t have to worry about any surprise bills.
Lastly, as you call and email potential hires, if a lawyer is constantly unavailable, unresponsive, or doesn’t call back or email when they said they would, these actions should be a cause for concern, and it’s best to move on.
When you meet with a real estate lawyer you may potentially hire, ask as many questions as you need to understand the process, risks and what they do to protect their clients if there are hiccups along the way. If the lawyer gets impatient, isn’t making sure you understand what they are telling you or are busy looking at or answering their phone, you’re likely better off continuing your search.