'Largest purchase of your life' shouldn't be taken lightly

Vancouver lawyer says new buyers should consider more than price when searching for the right notary public or conveyance lawyer


By Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun April 20, 2012

Working with a real estate conveyance lawyer or a notary public is necessary to close all real estate deals in British Columbia.

Vancouver lawyer Gail Davies has been doing real estate con-veyancing for more than 25 years, and it makes up about 65 per cent of her practice.

She says it's difficult for many first-time homebuyers to choose a lawyer or notary, and often they choose based on price, which can vary depending on the services that are included.

"How are you going to decide who to go with on the largest purchase of your life? It's very hard for a first-time homebuyer to decide what's the best deal," Davies said. "I think most people go by the sound of the voice on the other end of the phone and who you feel comfortable doing business with."

She says real estate conveyanc-ing is quite competitive in Vancouver, so people should make sure they are comparing the same services if they are going by price alone. Davies said she charges $1,158 including HST for a real estate conveyance for a home under $1 million.

Davies said first-time home-buyers need more legal information than repeat customers.

"I can do a conveyance in half an hour with a repeat buyer, but that would take at least an hour and a half with a first-time buyer, depending on the number of questions they have," Davies said.

The lawyer's role includes witnessing signatures, preparing the documents for the buyer and the seller, doing title searches on the property, pre-paring the title certificate, handling the transfer of funds, closing arrangements and other tasks.

Davies said that after 25 years in the business she still comes across new problems regularly.

"There's a million different problems that can go wrong, although most conveyances are cut and dried," Davies said. "I always think, 'Okay I've seen everything now and then something else comes along.'"

On one deal Davies was recently involved with, a per-son whose offer on the property had not been accepted, placed a caveat on the property's title.

"He felt that the realtors had misled him, and he had an axe to grind," Davies said. "[A caveat] freezes the property for 30 days and gives you the opportunity to start a lawsuit. If you don't start a lawsuit, the caveat falls off.

"It was basically a four-month process before we could deal with this property."

Another example of a problem that can crop up is an unexpected builder's lien on a property, Davies said.

"Maybe the seller had some work done to get the property ready for selling, and was planning to pay for it out of the sale proceeds, and suddenly there's a lien on the title."

Davies has a summary of the buying process on her website: www.llglaw.ca.


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