The Difference Between Real Estate Lawyers and Notaries

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Buying and Selling Real Estate is a process involving lots of money, contractual obligations and emotions. As your East Van Real Estate Agents, we will ensure that the contracts you sign are clear cut and without issue, however, using the services of a Lawyer or Notary to complete the transaction is HIGHLY recommended. They can review contracts, prepare the necessary documentation (there is lots of it when you’re changing title and land ownership) and they can help to ensure a smooth transaction. Using a Lawyer or Notary should cost approximately $1000, which is well worth it considering the support and security a legal professional offers. You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned Lawyer or Notary Public – what’s the difference?

For a typical real estate transaction (which thankfully is the majority of transactions), you’ll be happy with either kind of representation. If the deal involves interesting / unusual / unexpected situations, then you may want to consider the difference and what each professional can offer.


On the Completion Date of the transaction (the day money and ownership are transferred between Buyer and Seller), your Real Estate Lawyer or Notary Public will:

  • Perform a title search to ensure you’re buying property from the rightful owner, and that the property is free of all legal claims on the property (so you know exactly what you’re buying)
  • Prepare the Statement of Adjustments detailing how much money needs to be transferred between the Buyer and the Seller. Often this involves re-imbursement of pre-paid bills or future expenses, so the Statement of Adjustments indicates the final amount of money the Buyers and Sellers will exchange (so you only have to exchange money once, rather than writing cheques back and forth between you)
  • Prepare closing documents including the title transfer, mortgage papers, property transfer tax forms, etc. The Lawyer or Notary will ensure that you’re getting all the rebates and benefits you’re entitled too (i.e. first time home buyer’s benefit)
  • Connect with the Seller’s Lawyer to register the transfer, ensure the Seller is paid and complete the deal!


The differences between a Real Estate Lawyer and Notary Public include:

  • A Lawyer can represent you in disputes and in court, a Notary cannot.
  • A Lawyer can give you advice if you have situational questions or how to proceed if something unexpected happens after the accepted offer and before the possession date. A Notary cannot give legal advice, they have just enough legal power to register and sign off on documents.
  • Fees are slightly higher for a Lawyer, though this includes the extra services mentioned above.

Like I mentioned before, most real estate transactions are straight forward and complete without issue, however, unexpected situation can happen. In this case, it’s generally better to be working with a Lawyer because they have the ability to continue to help you through the rest of the transaction and impending legal consequences and since you already have a relationship with the person, it would make the process much more smooth.

Once your offer is accepted, we will refer you to a great Lawyer or Notary Public that we have a solid relationship with (unless you have someone you’re already comfortable working with). Feel free due research to determine who is your best fit – meet with them, ask questions, and inquire about their services – you have to be comfortable with this person before you proceed. We highly suggest Bell Alliance – we’ve been working with them for years and they always do a fantastic job.

Buying and Selling real estate is a major transaction and your legal representation is another member of your professional Real Estate team – we are all here to help make your transaction smooth, fulfilling and educational.