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Real estate transactions can be exciting for both buyers and sellers. Whether you are looking to buy commercial property, or trying to sell the family estate, an experienced lawyer can simplify the process and help you avoid common pitfalls. At Castle Law, our real estate lawyers provide comprehensive counsel on a wide range of property matters from residential sales to commercial land development and leasing. Our goal is to protect your interests while making the real estate transaction process straightforward, from start to finish.

How our real estate lawyers can help you

If you are looking to buy, sell, lease, or develop land in Vancouver, be sure to seek competent legal counsel.

Our real estate lawyers offer guidance on the following concerns:


Residential purchases — Few events compare to purchasing your first home. At our firm, we understand that you may be stressed or concerned about the road ahead. Rest assured, we will guide you through each stage of the process and answer any questions you have along the way.


Residential sales — Selling your home requires more than just an MLS listing. And, the deeper you move into the sales process, the more complicated things can get — paying out any associated mortgages and acquiring the sale proceeds are two examples. Our Vancouver real estate lawyers handle each step of the sales process so that your only worries are signing and moving out.


Refinancing — After you’ve selected one of the various mortgage products on the market, refinancing your home is simple. Once you decide on a mortgage alternative, contact our firm and we can help you traverse real estate refinancing laws.


Co-ownership agreements — If you plan on sharing ownership of a property with friends and family, it’s a good idea to create a co-ownership agreement. Our lawyers can help you draft a thorough, legally binding document to protect your rights and prevent future disputes.


Buying and selling commercial real estate — If you are looking to buy or sell commercial real estate in Vancouver, our lawyers can help manage the legal aspects of the transaction so that you can focus on protecting your bottom line.


Financing commercial property — Our legal team can work with brokers and lenders to streamline the commercial financing process to facilitate the timely advance of loan funds.


Land assemblies — If you are looking to combine adjacent lots to form a larger parcel of land, our real estate lawyers can assist you with the legal process. Having represented both buyers and sellers, we possess an in-depth understanding of how land assemblies can maximize land use for commercial or residential strata properties.


Real estate development — At Castle Law, our lawyers work with developers every step of the way — from land acquisition and consolidating lots to drafting legal agreements and holding deposits.


Commercial leasing — Our lawyers routinely help tenants and landlords prepare, review, and amend commercial lease agreements

Whether you are interested in purchasing residential real estate or selling a commercial or retail lot, our legal team can provide you with trusted advice at every turn.


A Real
Estate Lawyer?

What does a real estate lawyer do?

Most people interested in buying or selling real estate understand the importance of hiring an agent. However, hiring a competent lawyer can be even more beneficial. Not only can a real estate lawyer guide you through the buying/selling process, but they can also protect your rights and offer advice on how to resolve any issues that may arise.

The responsibilities of a real estate lawyer vary based on the type of transaction and stage of the process.

Some common duties include:

  • Review all legal documents (including the Agreement of Purchase or Agreement of Sale) as well as any issues pertaining to the transaction. 
  • Ensure property taxes are up to date.
  • Ensure that there are no liens or claims registered against the property. 
  • Identify if there is a valid property title and determine what land transfer tax is due at closing. 
  • Litigate any issues that cannot be resolved out of court. 
  • Review of the Status Certificate for cases involving condo purchases.

What are the roles of a real estate lawyer for the buyer?

Given that buying a house is likely the largest purchase you will ever make, you should consult a lawyer beforehand.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer in Vancouver, or looking to sell a rural retreat, a real estate lawyer can perform the following roles on your behalf:

  • Assess the Agreement of Purchase and all other legal documents
  • Ensure there no claims or liens against the property exist
  • Arrange for title insurance
  • Make sure your title is valid at closing
  • Ensure property taxes are current
  • Determine the land transfer tax owed at closing
  • Arrange mortgage documentation
  • Close the transaction, ensuring all legal and financial obligations are satisfied
  • Exchange keys and legal documentation with the seller’s counsel

No matter what stage you are at in the homebuying process, a lawyer can provide you with invaluable advice on how to move forward.


Real Estate Lawyer
Do For You?

What are the roles of a real estate lawyer as a seller?

When the time comes to sell, some homeowners believe they can proceed without any help. While you may be able to promote your home online without an agent, selling your house without a skilled lawyer is another story. 

Some responsibilities of a seller’s lawyer include:

  • Review the Agreement of Sale and all other documents requiring your signature
  • Negotiate the terms and conditions on your behalf
  • Ensure the deed to your house is prepared
  • Identify and resolve any title issues that may arise 
  • Close the transaction
  • Ensure all financial and legal requirements are met
  • Exchange keys and legal documentation with the buyer’s counsel

Whether you plan on buying or selling property in BC, a knowledgeable lawyer can simplify the process and help ensure your best interests are protected along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Contract of Purchase and Sale (CPS) is one of the standard BC Real Estate forms, developed by the British Columbia Real Estate Association, and used throughout BC and the Lower Mainland. There are different names for the CPS, e.g. “Agreement of Purchase and Sale,” “Purchase Agreement, or “Offer.”

It is merely a standard contract developed and field-tested by realtors with expert input from real estate lawyers.

The contract is a legal document and has evolved over time and will continue to do so. Significant changes are made to the form from time to time due to changes in practice, new legislation or the outcome of legal cases. When you are looking to buy a home in British Columbia, be sure to use the most recent version of the form. Always check the date on the bottom left of the page to confirm it is the most current version.

The Contract of Purchase and Sale is not to be confused with the BC Assignment of Contract of Purchase and Sale Agreement. The Assignment of Contract is used when a buyer transfers the purchase contract to another buyer before the completion date.

Can a seller back out of an accepted offer in Canada? In short, yes, a seller can cancel/back out of an accepted offer in Canada. But the seller can’t just do that without any reason. There must be a valid & explainable reason behind cancelling the order.

After listing a property and even finding a buyer, sometimes sellers want to break the deal due to personal or economic issues. There are several options that let a seller back out from a real estate deal. However, as a seller, you have to be cautious while processing.

In case the seller and buyer both signed a contract, then the seller can’t just simply back out as their wish. There are boundings for that.

However, there are some situations that let a seller back out legally. They are:

  • The agreement is verbal
  • The seller has a suitable home-sell contingency
  • Breach of contract on the buyer’s side
  • Buyers scammed the seller

If you can’t find a legal way to break the deal but still process backing out, the following things might happen to you.

  • The buyer can sue you for the breach of contract
  • You may need to pay compensation for your unreasonable and unwarranted action
  • If you hire a real estate agent for listing your property and suddenly back out from the plan, they can also sue you if they want. You have to pay compensation for the promotional and legwork they have already done to sell your place.

Think thoroughly before making your decision

By reading so far, you must understand that a real estate contract is nothing less than a legal paper. Therefore, when you are about to break a legal binding, be prepared to face all the consequences.

And go through this path only when you have no other way in your hand. Regardless of the legal barrier, backing out from an accepted offer is a matter of breaking commitment, too.

Review your contract

When a contract is legally signed, you should check all the clauses to find whether any of them gives you options to back out. And try your best to utilize those chances.

Be open and honest towards your buyer

If you are open and honest about your situation, the buyer may feel sympathetic toward you. They might let you break the deal without giving any penalties.

When a buyer makes an offer to purchase a house or condo and the seller accepts it, a contract of purchase and sale is formed.

Most contracts contain “subject conditions,” which are due diligence searches and investigations which must be completed by the buyer before the contract becomes fully binding on both parties.

For various reasons, contracts can come apart at the seams. Sometimes it is as a result of one or more subject conditions not being removed (and thus the contract lapses). However, even after subject conditions are waived or fulfilled, on occasion the buyer can’t or won’t complete.

A buyer who wants to have “first dibs” on one of these collapsed sales can ask his realtor to write a “backup offer” while the first contract is still in force.

Since the seller can’t legally sell the same property twice, the backup offer is drafted to come into effect only when the original offer no longer exists.

Common clauses used by real estate agents for this purpose include:

  • “This backup offer shall only become effective when the seller is no longer legally obligated to complete the sale of the property under the original offer.” Or,
  • “This backup offer is subject to the collapse or non-completion of the original contract of purchase and sale.”

Home buyers in BC pay a provincial Property Transfer Tax (PTT) when they buy a home. The tax is charged at a rate of 1% on the first $200,000 of the purchase price and 2% on the remainder up to and including $2 million. The PTT is 3% on amounts greater than $2 million. If the property is residential, a further 2% PTT is payable on the portion greater than $3 million.

Qualifying first-time home buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT if the purchase price of their home is priced up to $500,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced between $500,000 and $525,000. At $525,000 and above, the rebate is nil.

Qualifying buyers of new homes may be exempt if the purchase price of their home is priced up to $750,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced between $750,000 and $800,000. At $800,000 and above, there’s no rebate.

The two most notable ways to avoid property transfer tax by form of an exemption are:

First Time Home Buyer Property Transfer Tax Exemption – To help enter in to the market, the first time home buyer’s (FTHB) program gives an exemption to the property transfer tax in the case that you can qualify.

If you are a first time home buyer and Canadian citizen/permanent resident that is purchasing a resale property to live in as your primary residence under $500,000, then you may be eligible for a full property transfer tax exemption of up to $8000.

There is also a partial first time home buyer PTT exemption for properties less than $525,000.

Newly Built Home PTT Exemption – There’s a PTT exemption for newly built homes with a fair market value of up to $750,000, including a house constructed on vacant land, a new apartment in a newly built condominium building, a manufactured home on vacant land, and other newly built homes.

There are also occupancy requirements, and you may be eligible for a partial exemption for newly built home with fair market value of $750,000 – $800,000.

There are many other less common property transfer tax BC exemptions, including family exemptions, as well as a vacant land PTT refund for new homes.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for determining a company’s market value. However, there are several valuation techniques that may be employed:

  1.  Asset-based valuation – Adding the company’s total worth of tangible and intangible assets, minus liabilities
  2. Market-based valuation – Based on your company’s sales revenue relative to competitors in the same sector.
  3. Earnings-based valuation – Examine the company’s financial history to get a sense of its future profitability and value.
  4. Discounted cash-flow valuation – Calculate the present value of a business’s future cash flow

It’s a good idea to hire an expert valuator to evaluate your company. They may assist you in obtaining an accurate assessment of the significant assets you might be buying.

Sometimes, after a while, circumstances change, and having a restrictive title encumbrance on property can be a significant issue. Restrictive covenants are charges registered against the title to land that restrict the usage (and sometimes the enjoyment) of that property in some manner.

One of the issues is how to modify or get rid of a restrictive covenant that is no longer useful. It can be rather simple if the person for whom the benefit of the contract was registered, agrees. What can you do to remove a limiting agreement that restricts use, prevents development, or depresses market value from your property if the parties don’t agree?

The short answer is that you can petition the courts for an order allowing you to modify or remove the restrictive covenant from your property’s title. The Property Law Act, section 35, gives you this power.

Section 35 enables the court to modify or annul a variety of land-related charges, including restrictive covenants, statutory rights of way, building schemes, and land use contracts in appropriate situations regardless of the objections of other interested parties.

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At Castle Law, our lawyers provide personalized guidance for a wide range of residential and commercial real estate endeavors. Let us handle the legal legwork so you can focus on the future. Call or contact us online to discuss your real estate matter with one of our skilled lawyers.


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