Add a lawyer to your team
Buying a home involves piles of legal documents. You need someone to translate the 'legalese' and ensure your best interests are protected. If you go it alone, you could get buried in paperwork. It's best to have a REALTOR® help you through it.
Finding a lawyer
There are lots of experienced real estate lawyers out there. Ask your friends or co-workers. REALTORS® will happily give you the names of several lawyers experienced in real estate. Be sure you ask your lawyer how they structure their fees, and get an estimate of the other legal costs you can expect.
How your lawyer will help
There are many, many legal steps to transferring ownership of land from one person to another. Even if pitfalls like fraud, government legislation, zoning issues or unpaid taxes don't come up, your lawyer will more than earn their pay by making the legal transfer of the home a smooth one.
Don't be scared of your lawyer
He or she is here to help you. Ask questions if you don't understand anything. Explaining legal jargon in plain language is a big part of their job.
Close the purchase
Your offer has been accepted and you can't wait to move in. But don't break out the bubbly just yet. You have to close the deal. Your REALTOR® and lawyer will do most of the closing work, but here's your checklist.
- Immediately begin satisfying any conditions of the agreement that require action on your part. Your REALTOR® can fill out the documents stating that the conditions have been satisfied.
- Have your lawyer begin searching title to the property. This can take a while, so make sure you allow ample time.
- Well before closing, get your homeowner's insurance to be effective on your closing date. Your insurance broker will give you a 'binder' letter certifying that you're covered. You can't get a mortgage without this letter!
- Contact your lender and have them finalize your mortgage documents. Have your lawyer review them before you sign.
- Your lawyer will transfer essential utilities like hydro and water, but you'll have to make sure telephone and cable companies switch their services to your name.
- If you rent, give notice to your landlord or sublease your apartment.
- Begin planning your big move! Where are those cardboard boxes?
- Send out your change of address information and fill out a card at the post office. Contact the Ministry of Transport about changing your driver's licenses.
- Walk through your new home one more time with your REALTOR®.
- A day or two before closing, you'll meet with your lawyer to sign the closing documents. Your lawyer will tell you in advance what certified cheques you'll need to seal the deal.
Moving day will come sooner than you think, so get planning now.
'Closing date' may or may not mean moving date
It may or may not be practical to move in on the closing date. You may not get the keys to your new home until late in the day. So you may want to try and schedule the actual move for a day or so after closing. If you intend to move at the end of the month, contact a moving company or truck rental company now before they're all booked. If you can move mid-week or mid-month, a moving company might cut you a deal.
Go with a reputable moving company
We've all heard moving horror stories. Go with an established, insured mover, so your items are protected.
Pack it yourself, and pack early
Nobody will take the same care you will. Start early and spread it out over many days. Label all your boxes by room so the movers know where to put them, and label anything that's fragile.
Do you really need to take that with you?
A new home is a new lease on life, and a chance to liberate yourself from stuff you simply don't need. If you haven't used it or worn it in the last year, you probably don't need it. Have a garage sale, or give it to charity.
Once you move in
The boxes are mostly unpacked and you're settling in nicely. You will now feel a strange urge to begin making changes and improvements right away. That old carpet has to go, a bigger deck would be great for entertaining... slow down! Take time to get a feel for your new home, and more importantly, your new budget. Take a deep breath and enjoy what you have, your new home.