How to Choose a Real Estate Lawyer: Ontario Guide

How to Choose a Real Estate Lawyer?

Looking for a Real Estate Lawyer?

Choosing the right real estate lawyer is crucial for ensuring a smooth property transaction. A skilled lawyer helps to prevent potential issues, provides clear guidance, and advocates for your rights. Their expertise ensures that all legal documents and requirements are accurately prepared and reviewed, preventing costly mistakes.

A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can answer questions relating to the real estate transaction, offering clarity on complex legal matters. If problems arise, their experience is invaluable in navigating disputes and protecting their clients' interests.

By correctly choosing a real estate lawyer, the client gains a trusted advisor who safeguards investments and peace of mind throughout the transaction process.

Understanding the Real Estate Lawyer's Job

In order to choose the right legal professional, it's important to understand exactly what they do.

What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do? 

A real estate lawyer ensures that every legal aspect of a real estate transaction is handled with precision and care, regardless of the type of property.

They conduct title searches to verify the property's legal ownership, check for any liens and encumbrances that could affect the transaction, draft and review purchase agreements and other documents that ensure all terms are fair and clearly understood by the clients, manage the transfer of funds and registration of property documents, and make sure all legal and financial requirements are met.

Beyond transactions, real estate lawyers assist with other legal issues such as property disputes, boundary issues, certain landlord-tenant disagreements, or breaches of contract.

An experienced real estate attorney may also practice in land development projects by navigating zoning laws, land use regulations and environmental assessments. Their expertise ensures that all parties are compliant with local law and conflicts are addressed in a fair and efficient manner.

Why Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?

In Ontario, you are legally required to be represented by a lawyer when completing a property transaction. The legal requirement for a lawyer is designed to protect their clients, and their clients interests, by ensuring that all transactions are conducted fairly, transparently, and with full legal oversight.

When Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?

It is always best to engage a real estate lawyer as soon as possible in the property transaction process.

Early intervention by a real estate lawyer offers significant benefits such as:

  • Coordination and Communication: Lawyers maintain open lines of communication with mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, and real estate agents to ensure all parties are aligned on the transaction's progress and requirements;
  • Identifying Issues Early: Early involvement allows for thorough due diligence and early identification of potential legal issues with respect to zoning or liens;
  • Negotiating Terms: Lawyers can negotiate terms and conditions to protect their clients interests;
  • Ensuring Compliance: Ensures all legal requirements are met from the beginning, avoiding legal pitfalls;
  • Streamlining the Process: Early legal intervention prevents unnecessary delays and complications, making the transaction more efficient; and
  • Providing Peace of Mind: Having a lawyer handle legal matters provides confidence and allows focus on other important aspects.

Looking for a Real Estate Lawyer?

Practice Area Specialization

When choosing a lawyer, it's essential to choose one who specializes in real estate law.

Specialization means that the lawyer has dedicated their practice to understanding the nuances and complexities of real estate deals and related legal issues. This expertise allows them to navigate various situations, whether it's a straightforward home purchase or a complex commercial property deal.

A lawyer who focuses on property law will be familiar with the current real estate market, local zoning laws, property taxes, land use regulations, and potential pitfalls that can arise during transactions. Lawyers who practice real estate full time may also have a repository of contacts if a client requires additional services or contacts for a real estate agent, mortgage broker, surveyor, a lawyer specializing in an alternate practice area.

Choosing a lawyer who only occasionally handles real estate transactions can be risky. They may not be up-to-date with the latest real estate-specific legal updates or nuances, leading to potential oversights or mistakes.

These errors can cause financial losses, legal disputes, or delays in the transaction. Additionally, such lawyers might not have the specialized knowledge to navigate complex issues, which could impact the quality of service and result in inadequate protection of your interests. It's crucial to select a lawyer dedicated to real estate law to ensure a smooth and secure transaction.

Reputation and Experience

Reputation and Experience

A lawyer's reputation and experience are critical indicators of their capability and reliability.

When looking for a real estate lawyer, you can start by researching potential lawyers online. Look for online reviews from google and legal websites, testimonials from previous clients, and any professional accolades or recognitions they may have received.

A lawyer with a strong, positive digital presence is often a sign of their credibility and success in handling real estate matters.

Additionally, it's beneficial to speak with other industry professionals such as real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and even other lawyers. These professionals often have firsthand experience working with various real estate lawyers and can provide valuable insights and recommendations. They can share which lawyers have consistently performed well in transactions, demonstrated strong negotiation skills, and maintained high ethical standards.


A real estate lawyer should be reachable and responsive to client inquiries. This means having direct access to the lawyer, not just the support staff to help you make informed decisions.

Clear, direct communication with a lawyer ensures that clients are well-informed and that any issues or questions can be addressed quickly and correctly. Communication is essential to ensure the client stays updated on the status of the transaction, allows clarity on legal terminology or contractual terms, and it ensures that urgent matters are handled promptly to prevent potential delays or complications on the file.

Knowing who the representative is and how to reach them when needed provides a sense of security and confidence. It ensures that legal needs are being prioritized and that there is a reliable advocate looking out for the best interests throughout the real estate transaction.

Be cautious of "faceless" real estate law firms. They may have sleek, modern websites, but if you can't easily identify the lawyer who will represent you, consider it a red flag.


When selecting a real estate lawyer, accountability is an important factor to consider. A lawyer who is accountable ensures that they take full responsibility for their work and decisions, providing a reliable and trustworthy legal relationship. Here are several aspects of accountability to keep in mind:

  • Transparency in Fees and Billing: Accountable lawyers provide clear and upfront information about their fees and billing practices. They will offer a detailed explanation of how they charge for their services, whether it's a flat fee, or hourly rate. This transparency helps to avoid unexpected costs and provides a clear understanding as to what is being paid for.
  • Professional Responsibility: A real estate lawyer should adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct and ethics. This includes maintaining confidentiality, providing competent representation, and acting in their clients best interest at all times. An accountable lawyer will also admit and correct any mistakes that occur, demonstrating their commitment to professional integrity.
  • Timely Action: Accountability also means that a lawyer acts in a timely manner. Real estate transactions often have tight deadlines, and delays can lead to financial penalties or even the collapse of a deal. An accountable lawyer ensures that all tasks, such as document preparation, title searches, and communications with other parties, are completed promptly and efficiently. They will also keep track of critical dates and deadlines, ensuring that nothing is overlooked.
  • Follow-Through and Follow-Up: An accountable lawyer follows through on their promises and commitments. They do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it. Additionally, they follow up after the transaction is completed to address any lingering questions or issues. This post-transaction support demonstrates their dedication to client satisfaction and long-term service.
  • Client Feedback: A lawyer who values accountability will encourage and welcome client feedback. They may provide opportunities to share client experience and offer suggestions for improvement. This willingness to listen and adapt based on client input shows a commitment to continuous improvement and client-centric service.

Fees and Costs

Legal fees are a crucial part of closing costs in real estate transactions, covering services like contract review, mortgage preparation, title searches, statement of adjustments, and legal compliance. These fees include the lawyer’s charges and disbursements for additional expenses like title searches, title insurance, tax certificates, and administrative fees.

While understanding these costs is important for budgeting, it's even more essential to focus on value rather than just low prices. Choosing experienced real estate professionals—such as your lawyer, agent, and mortgage broker—ensures a smooth transaction. Opting for the cheapest option can lead to oversights, delays, and additional costs down the line.

Discuss the fee structure upfront with your lawyer to ensure transparency and avoid surprises. Remember, investing in quality professionals can save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Don't forget to account for real estate commissions in your budgeting as well.

Don't just look for the lowest price. Investing in an experienced real estate lawyer ensures a smooth transaction and can ultimately save you money from costly mistakes and delays.


Choosing the right real estate lawyer is crucial for a smooth and secure property transaction. A specialized real estate lawyer ensures all legal documents are accurate, mitigates risks, and advocates for their clients interests.

Their expertise in handling transactions and disputes provides clarity and protection, making them an invaluable advisor throughout the process. In Ontario, having a real estate lawyer is legally required for certain aspects of property transactions, ensuring transparency and fairness.

When selecting a lawyer, prioritize those with specialization, strong reputations, and accessibility. A specialized lawyer is updated with real estate-specific legalities, reducing the risk of oversights. Research potential lawyers online, seek recommendations from industry professionals, and ensure they are reachable and responsive.

Understanding the costs involved, including legal fees and disbursements, is essential for budgeting and planning. Transparency in fee structure and accountability in their practice are key to avoiding unexpected surprises and ensuring a smooth transaction.

Contact Us

If you have questions about choosing the right real estate lawyer or any other real estate legal matter, we're here to help. As real estate law specialists, our mission is to provide the clarity and direction you need to protect your property rights.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Written by
Zachary Soccio-Marandola
Real Estate Lawyer

Direct: (647) 797-6881

Free Consultation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much does a real estate lawyer cost in Ontario?

Real estate lawyer fees in Ontario for house closing range from $999 to $2,000, depending on the complexity of the transaction.

What does a real estate lawyer do in Ontario?

A real estate lawyer assists with various aspects of buying and selling property. Their responsibilities include handling transactions, reviewing agreements of purchase and sale, arranging title insurance, ensuring property taxes are up to date, and preparing mortgage documents.

Do you need a lawyer to sell a house in Ontario?

In Ontario, only a lawyer can transfer the title, so you will need to hire one to buy or sell a house.

Can buyer and seller use the same lawyer in Ontario?

No, the buyer and seller in an Ontario real estate transaction must have separate lawyers - except in limited situations.