Opening Doors

You and your Real Estate Lawyer


If the legal process has already begun you may ask “where is my lawyer”?  Your lawyer is available to both you and your real estate agent at all stages of the process just described.  Your agent, your lawyer and your mortgage lender will work together with you to ensure your concerns are addressed in the purchase process.  Your lawyer’s role is to ensure that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations set out in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, and to take you through the process of completing your purchase on the “closing date” - moving in day - without the “moving day blues”.





- If you contacted your lawyer before signing your Agreement of Purchase and Sale, your lawyer will respond to any specific concerns you may have, review generally the costs you will incur in closing the transaction, and provide an overview of the process of purchasing to ensure that any inquiries you wish to make are provided for as “conditions of your agreement”.


- If contacted during or after the agreement process your lawyer will review your Agreement of Purchase and Sale to ensure you are aware of all your rights and responsibilities contained in your contract.


- Once all the inquiries have been made in accordance with your agreement, your lawyer will start with the legal inquiries to be made on your behalf.




You may not be aware that your mortgage company requires your lawyer to look after their interests as well as yours.  Your mortgage company has given you a “commitment” to loan you money on certain terms, one of which is to give them security for the repayment of the loan by placing a mortgage against your new home.


At the time the ownership of the property is transferred to you, the mortgage will be signed by you.  The signing of the mortgage transfers the legal title of the property to the mortgage company.  As a result, the mortgage company is concerned about receiving a good title to the property and requires your lawyer to certify the title to them.  You, of course, will retain rights over the property such as the exclusive right to live in the property and occupy it as your home, provided only that you make the mortgage payments, and otherwise comply with your mortgage agreement.  Once you have paid back the entire mortgage loan to the mortgage company, you will receive the legal title of the property back.


As a result of having two clients, your lawyer has the obligation of full disclosure both to you and your mortgage company of all information pertaining to the purchase transaction.  This duality will be explained more fully by your lawyer in your initial interview.




One of your lawyer’s functions is to ensure that you obtain clear title to your new home.  The Province of Nova Scotia has enacted new legislation and acquired new technology to modernize our 250 year old Registry system.  The new Land Registry Act introduced a new electronic property registry that will identify properties by parcel number and will completely change the way transactions involving real estate occur in Nova Scotia.  Let’s review some of the important parts of the Act.

The government has invested time, energy and money in the development of this new system, which was new in the western provinces in Canada in 1875.  Our registry system was the oldest and the one most in need of being dusted off and updated.  The new system accomplishes this.

Before the new system, every time a parcel of land changed hands, a historic 40 year search of title was required to be repeated, because our registry system had no means to tract the interests in a parcel of land.  With the new system, there is a means of tracking all the interests in a parcel, and once in the new system, this historic search need never be done again. Once registered, every parcel of land will have a unique identifying number (Property identification or PID) and will also have a ‘parcel register’ in which all the characteristics of ownership and interests appear.


The government “guarantee” that emanates on registration in the new system for the core of ownership interests, is based on a lawyer’s opinion.  Under the new system, titles that are based on squatters’ rights can attract the same guarantee as traditional titles, if evidence of occupation is sufficient to support certification by a lawyer. So, ask your lawyer to advise you as to the status of the property you have bought- whether it is registered in the new system, and what the characteristics are on your new ‘parcel register’.