REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW
Buying or selling your home can be a stressful situation. For most, purchasing a home will be the largest investment of their life. Our team is set up to provide you with guidance to remove stress, provide certainty and secure your transaction. Whether you're buying your first home, downsizing for retirement, or refinancing for renovations - we've got you covered.
Residential Tenancy Issues
Residential & Commercial Leasing
OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION
We offer one-on-one interaction with the lawyer who will be handling your transaction. We will answer your questions and provide guidance regarding your transaction in a timely fashion. Phone, text, email, virtual, in person - we're flexible to meet your needs.
FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS
Buying your first home is exciting, but it can be stressful and full of uncertainty. We have special resources and an individualized approach that's tailored to assist you in purchasing your first home!
We're forward thinking and invest in technology that makes transactions run efficiently. Virtual signatures, automated due diligence, document portals and videoconferencing are just a few of the technologies we use to make buying or selling easier for you.
No one likes an unexpected cost. We offer flat rate fees for real estate transactions. We will also explain any other necessary charges from the land registry and taxes associated with your transfer.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PURCHASING A HOME IN NOVA SCOTIA
AGREEMENT OF PURCHASE & SALE
For most people, purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments they will ever make; but often, they have little guidance until they have already signed the contract. This agreement forms the basis of your legal rights and obligations and dictates the process of your transaction.
Under Nova Scotia’s Land Registration Act, the Province of Nova Scotia guarantees the ownership of properties. The LRA requires that, in most cases, properties be migrated before they are sold or mortgaged. If the property has not yet been migrated to that system, we will discuss the process with you. Normally, sellers are required to complete the migration at their expense.
MUNICIPAL TAXES & LIENS
Municipalities have liens against properties for outstanding taxes and improvement charges. If there are unpaid taxes or improvement charges, the municipality may force the sale of the property to recover the debt. On closing, the current year's taxes will be apportioned between the purchaser and seller. We will prepare these adjustments for you and review them with you prior to closing.
LOCATION CERTIFICATE & TITLE INSURANCE
We cannot ensure that a house is actually located on the land being purchased. For this reason, it is in your best interest to obtain a certificate from a qualified land surveyor or, alternatively, obtain a title insurance policy.
Survey information with respect to the property is often supplied by the seller. As a cost saving measure, purchasers often rely upon this survey information; however, if you rely on a location or survey certificate which was not prepared for you, you may have no legal recourse for claims in the future.
Purchasers may obtain title insurance policies. Some of the benefits a title insurance policy offers include:
Protection against survey problems, e.g. boundaries, encroachments and undisclosed rights of way;
Protection against building by-law and zoning infractions;
A duty to defend you against title-related law suits.
In most cases, purchasers either assume an existing mortgage or, more commonly, arrange new mortgage financing to assist in the purchase of the property. It is your responsibility to arrange mortgage financing with the financial institution of your choice or to contact the existing mortgage company with respect to the assumption of an existing mortgage. Once your application for financing has been approved, the mortgage company will request the name of your lawyer and will forward all necessary documentation to that lawyer’s firm.
Mortgage funds will be advanced to your lawyer's firm in trust and will be disbursed by the firm on closing. As the Agreement of Purchase and Sale normally limits the time available to you to arrange financing, you should contact your mortgage company as soon as possible.
You must arrange for fire insurance to be effective as of the date of closing. Most mortgage companies insist that the property be insured for an amount at least equal to the face amount of the mortgage.The policy itself must show the mortgage company as having an interest in the property, with loss payable to the mortgage company up to the amount loaned. Before any funds will be released to your lawyer by the mortgage company, your insurance agent must provide written confirmation of the coverage.
MANNER OF TAKING TITLE
You must decide the manner in which you wish to take title to your property. If you are purchasing property with another person, there are a few options available to you:
In the name of either one of you individually; or
There are certain circumstances where it may be appropriate to use a hybrid approach of the above.
Most couples purchase property as joint tenants. When one of the two people dies, title to the property automatically passes to the survivor. This feature is known as the right of survivorship. As a result of this right, the property does not pass through the estate of the deceased party, and probate fees are not payable in connection with it.
If you decide to purchase as tenants-in-common and one of you dies while you both still own the property, that person’s interest in the property passes in accordance with the terms of the deceased's Will or, if there is no Will, to the deceased's heirs-at-law. Probate fees on the value of the land will be payable in this event.
As another alternative, you might decide to take title under the name of one individual only. This method may be selected for a number of reasons including protection from business related creditors, for income tax purposes to protect the property from the debts of another owner or in the instance of a deteriorating relationship. This method has several implications and it's imperative that you discuss your objectives with your lawyer.
TAXES - DEED TRANSFER TAX & HST
Most municipalities in Nova Scotia impose a Deed Transfer Tax. In most transactions, Municipalities tend to charge around one and one half percent (1.50%) of the total purchase price of the property. Until this tax has been paid to the appropriate municipal authority, the Registry Office will not accept the Deed for registration. Our statement of closing adjustments reflects deed transfer tax which we will review with you well in advance of closing. We will pay the tax on your behalf prior to registration of the Deed and closing of your transaction to ensure there are no complications.The Federal and Provincial Governments impose HST on the sale of new construction and commercial properties. In certain circumstances HST does not apply to real property sales, we can help you determine if it will apply to your transaction.
THE CLOSING PROCESS
With the advancement of technology and their impacts on the practice of law, almost all residential property transactions now take place at informal closings.The transaction is agreed to by telephone, virtual communication and email, the documents and money are transferred by courier or electronically.Prior to closing we will review the adjustments and usually advise you of the amount of money which is required to close the transaction. This amount will include the Deed Transfer Tax together with legal fees and disbursements. You must ensure that your lawyer has received these funds prior to closing to avoid any complications to the closing process.
On the day of closing the purchaser’s lawyer will forward the necessary funds to the seller's lawyer who will, in turn, provide the executed Deed and keys to the property. Once your lawyer has received these, he or she will pay the Deed Transfer Tax on your behalf, register the Deed and the mortgage in the Registry Office for the appropriate county, and arrange for you to receive the keys. After the closing you should receive the registered Deed and supporting documents, including a copy of the Statement of Recorded and Registered Interests.