We are pleased to inform that the Ontario government has announced that Real Estate Lawyers, Real Estate Agents, movers, banks, insurers and many businesses that affect the closing of real estate transactions have been deemed to be an "Essential Service". Click here for the Government of Ontario list of Essential Services.
Therefore, Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP shall continue to close real estate transactions (purchase, sales, mortgage refinance and transfer of ownership/title) as scheduled using our new worldwide remote signing software with bank grade ID authentication to ensure the safety of both our clients and our staff.
We know you are being overwhelmed with news about COVID-19 and we know it is a lot right now given the uncertainty of the market. Here at Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP, we are committed to being both responsive and proactive in protecting you and your client’s interests, navigating these times with everyone’s safety in mind.
Here are frequently asked questions about Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP’s operations and response to COVID-19:
1. What is your firm’s action plan? Are you currently operational and if so, will you be operational to close transactions if the government requires your firm to work remotely?
Given our sophisticated and largely redundant law firm infrastructure, our real estate law firm is uniquely positioned to maintain operational continuity thanks to our in-home mobile signing service and ability to both receive and transmit closing funds digitally. Should the government require businesses to operate remotely, we can do so.
2. Will your firm be able to close transaction on time in the near future?
Yes, provided the banks and Teranet remain operational and you fulfill all third party (lenders, insurers, etc.) requirements, we are running business as usual with enhanced safety measures.
3. Will it be possible to pay the brokerage their commission if your office is required by the government to close?
Yes. Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP offers our free iCommission Express service, where we digitally transfer your commission funds directly to your brokerage the business day following closing. We send a confirmation report to your brokerage for proof of payment and simple tracking.
4. How will your firm deal with keys if your office is required to close by the government and you are working remotely?
With all of our sale closings we offer our clients FREE lock boxes so that they are not without their keys prior to closing. There is no need for a sale client to come to our office, they simply leave the key in the lock box on closing and walk away. The buyer’s lawyer is provided the lock box code in escrow. Once the deal closes the buyer goes directly to the property so there is no need to go to the lawyers office to pick up keys. We also encourage agents to coordinate with the buyers and sellers to exchange keys at the property to avoid further public contact for all parties. This will also address any issues with office closures, courier delays, quarantines, etc. beyond anyones control.
5. How will my client sign closing documents?
It goes without saying, we shall take every measure we can think of to keep our clients and staff safe. We have launched our worldwide remote signing service with sercure ID verification built in.
We offer one (1) in-home signing service anywhere in the world from 7am-midnight, 7 days a week, with your flat rate legal fee (refer to www.RealEstateLawyers.ca/Mobile for more details).
6. How will you send money to the seller’s lawyer if couriers shut down?
In accordance with the standard form OREA contract we can wire closing funds to the other side (at no extra charge to the client). As we have 8 trust accounts set up at the various banks in Canada and we use their cash management platforms to be able to release wires from anywhere in the world. By having access to such banks, Buyer’s lawyers can transfer funds to our account without the need for physically sending cheques and relying on couriers not losing such cheques and not being late.
7. How do your clients send you closing funds if your office is required to close by the government and you are working remotely?
Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP is a Bill Payee with all banks and credit unions. The client simply logs into their online banking platform, adds Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP as a payee and pays the outstanding balance which goes right to our trust account the next business day. Client uses their file number as their account number. Clients can also pay by credit card (subject to a load fee that gets paid to the credit card provider.)
8. Can Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP receive deposits on a transaction if the brokerage does not accept digital funds?
Yes. First you need to enter Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP in Trust on the Agreement of Purchase and Sale same as the entity receiving the deposit. Just as a client paying the outstanding balance to close the transaction, Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP is a Bill Payee with all banks and credit unions. The buyer simply logs into their online banking platform, adds Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP as a payee and pays the deposit which goes right to our trust account the next business day. Please note that an account number is required which is the client file number which is provided by my office. Simply email [email protected] should you require any assistance.
9. Can Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP represent both the buyer and seller for the same transaction?
Yes, Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP has 10 real estate insured partners and we would assign a partner to each side of the transaction along with a separate clerk and admin on each file.
10. What clauses should I be inserting in my agreements to protect my clients, the brokerage and myself?
We suggest the following clauses be put into all of your future and current transactions (of course each transaction is unique and if you have specific questions please contact us directly)
INSERT THE FOLLOWING CLAUSES INTO SCHEDULE A
The Buyer shall pay the balance of the purchase price, subject to the usual adjustments by wire transfer.
The parties acknowledge and agree that all closing documentation can be signed electronically and forwarded by email or fax in accordance with the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000, S.O.2000,c.17
The parties agree that the keys to the property shall be left in a lock box at the property and the code to the same is to be provided to the Buyer’s lawyer in escrow pending closing of this transaction.
The parties herein acknowledge and agree that they are required to close this transaction notwithstanding any impacts of COVID-19, save and except the closing of the Land Registry Office(s) and all financial institutions. In the event the closing cannot occur due to a shutdown/disruption of the Land Registry System and/or banking system, then the closing date shall be automatically extended to the fifth (5th) business day following the date upon which said systems have returned to operational status and can clear funds accordingly.
Buyer and Seller acknowledge that due to measures taken by the Provincial Government in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there could possibly be a delay at land registration that would affect the actual registration date from the date herein contemplated. In such event, the Buyer and Seller hereby agree to extend the completion date of this transaction until the next possible date following the scheduled date of completion that registration could actually be effected, with no additional charges being made to the Buyer. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event the Buyer’s title Insurer has provided “gap coverage” to the Buyer, and all closing funds have been paid to the Seller’s Solicitor in trust, keys may be released (possession transferred) to the Buyer with title transfer and registration to take place at a later date. In such circumstances all expenses and risk related to the property shall be the responsibility of the Buyer from the date of such escrow closing.
We have significantly increased precautionary measures to ensure we minimize any impact on your transactions. We look to trusted and reliable sources of information, team members, partners, and vendors to guide our decision making. As we navigate this complex and changing landscape, we’re monitoring the situation on a daily basis.
To be clear, we are running business as usual and will be sure to keep you apprised along the way to assist you with managing your business.
Should you have any questions or concerns please be sure to ask.
From our family to yours, be safe and keep well!