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Real Estate

Levy Zavet Lawyers: A Real Estate Lawyer’s Top Tips for First-Time Homebuyers in 2020

As 2019 came to a close, many Canadians are setting their sights on 2020 and making plans for the next decade. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to purchase your first home, then you will definitely want to read our top tips for first-time home buyers!

Tip #1: Learn about government programs that may apply to you.
One of the benefits of working with a real estate lawyer, is they will often as a courtesy let you know about government programs which may help to make your first home more affordable. For example, the First-time Homebuyers Plan, allows new homebuyers to borrow up to $25,000 from their RRSP and the recent introduction of the First-time Homebuyer Incentive can help homebuyers reduce their mortgage costs. Furthermore, first-time homebuyers in Ontario may be eligible for a refund on their land transfer tax.
Knowing about which government programs apply to you, can go a long way toward helping you get into your first home.

Tip #2: Review the agreements before you sign.

For a first-time homebuyer, reviewing the terms of a purchase agreement can seem like a tedious task, but it is absolutely necessary. Your lawyer can help you go through the finer points and recommend terms you might wish to request.

If you are purchasing a new home, you will find that the terms tend to favour the builder. But you need to consider whether you are willing to take the risk that closing will be delayed or that you might have to live in the home before all aspects are complete. If not, your lawyer can help you draw up some reasonable terms to include in the agreement.

If you are purchasing a resale home, it is important to ensure that everything on the lot (pools, fences, shed, etc.) have been built to code. You will also want to review exactly what is included in the purchase so you aren’t met with surprises like missing appliances on move-in day.

Tip #3: Protect yourself against loss through on and off title searches.
Before you close on a property, your real estate lawyer will conduct a title search which gives you a history of the property in order to determine whether there are any obstacles that would prevent the transaction from completing, and therefore protect you from any outstanding encumbrances or title defects that you may be unaware of.

Your lawyer will also conduct off title searches to alert you to any unpaid property taxes, utility arrears, zoning concerns, building code violations and so forth. The exact off title searches that your lawyer conducts will depend on the type of property that you are purchasing and your intended use.

Your lawyer may also advise that you purchase title insurance to protect you against circumstances that the on title and off title searches did not turn up.

Tip #4: Hire a real estate lawyer early in the process.

Many first-time homebuyers in Canada don’t bring in a real estate lawyer until they are ready to sign on the dotted line. And that’s’ too bad because while it might seem like an expense on the surface, your real estate lawyer can actually save you thousands of dollars by protecting you from loss and even from unscrupulous sellers.

If you are planning your first home purchase in 2020, there is no time like the present to meet with a real estate lawyer for advice. Contact Levy Zavet Lawyers today for a consultation.