Understanding the Roles Agent, Broker and Attorney have in Your Real Estate Transaction

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, it’s a team effort. From your realtor to your lawyer, everyone has to do their part to ensure the home-buying process goes smoothly. Each party has an important role to fulfill to ensure everything goes according to plan. A lot happens in a short period of time to make sure your property closes on time.



When you think of buying or selling a home, a real estate agent most likely comes to mind. Your real estate agent acts as a matchmaker, locating affordable homes in your desired neighbourhood. For sellers, agents market your property and show it to interested buyers.

When you sell your home, the buyer’s and seller’s agent are compensated with commission based on the selling price of the home. The standard real estate commission is 5 percent (2.5 percent for the buyer’s agent and 2.5 percent for the seller’s agent). For example, if you sold your home for $500,000, you’d have to pay $25,000 in commission ($12,500 to your agent and $12,500 to the buyer’s agent).

Although a lot of buyers grumble about the commission, in most cases it’s a good investment. Unless you have the time and expertise to market your own property, you probably shouldn’t go the FSBO (for sale by owner) route. If you’re buying and selling with a single agent, you can often negotiate the lower commission.


A real estate broker is a lot like an agent, except with additional professional credentials. To become a broker in Ontario, an agent must successfully complete the Broker Registration Education Program. Not only can brokers work on their own, he can supervise other agents. Many agents obtain the qualifications of a broker without becoming the Broker of Record.

Not to be confused with a broker, a real estate brokerage can trade real estate on behalf of another party. To do this, the brokerage hires real estate agents to perform the daily buying and selling activities.

The Broker of Record plays an important role in a real estate transaction. He ensures the brokerage obeys with the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA 2002), and its regulations. He is also responsible for maintaining the brokerage trust account and reviewing and signing trade record sheets.


A real estate attorney is often the unsung hero of real estate deals. He ensures the transaction goes smoothly and according to plan. A lawyer usually comes into the picture once the buyer’s offer has been accepted.

Your attorney looks out for your best legal interests and makes you aware of any issues to crop up. Issues to be aware of include boundary lines, leans right-of-ways, title, and zoning. You should consider getting your real estate lawyer involved as early in the process as possible. It’s a good idea to let your lawyer review your offer before it’s signed to make sure it’s in your best legal interest.

Your lawyer will make sure you become the legal owner and the property closes on time. Unlike the agent and broker, your lawyer gets paid regardless of if the deal closes, so you can truly trust his unbiased advice. Consider finding a lawyer with years of experience in real estate, rather than a criminal or immigration lawyer.

John D'Souza

John D'Souza

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Innovative Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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