The fourth thing to look for in real estate is a lawyer.
You must find a lawyer if you are going to buy or sell real estate. That is a given and only a fool would try to get by without one.
It may well be the first thing you should do before you see your banker to pre-arrange financing and before you fall in love with that "location, location, location."
Finding a good lawyer is not easy. There are some 72,000 lawyers in Canada today. There are thousands of law firm web sites. How do you sort through the chaff to find the one kernel you need?
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GET IT IN WRITING:
Ask for a written estimate of fees, all disbursements and extras.
Be sure that the estimate includes an upper limit, an hourly rate and a schedule of chargeable items.
Know that lawyers usually charge for phone calls and photocopies.
Ask what will be expected as a retainer. Once you hand over a retainer it is going to be used up in full. That money is spent.
If you like a lawyer feel free to haggle over fees and retainers. A lawyer likes to charge by the hour, but an hour spent doing nothing costs money in overhead, office expenses and such...so often rates can be negotiated. Many lawyers are starving today. Use that knowledge to get a deal.
You should also know that most real estate lawyers do not actually do the work. They supervise law clerks who use automated software. For a simple house purchase or sale, the legal work is not difficult or demanding, but very routine clerical paper work. It does not require much effort at all
Be sure and cover contingencies with her. Legal work is a mine field of the unforeseen and the unexpected. If something like this arises, you want to know before you get a massive bill.
Garage mechanics are no longer permitted to hit us with five o'clock surprises. Strangely, lawyers are.
Be certain that your lawyer knows that you will NOT pay anything that is not covered in advance by a signed and agreed on estimate.
If during the work new costs arise, make certain that your lawyer understands that you must pre-approve the expenditure or you will not pay it.
Put that in writing. Disputes over fees can be referred to the assessment courts, but this is best avoided by clearly understanding everything up front.