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Conveyancing in BC

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Home with a white 'For Sale' sign in frontAs the process of legally transferring either a property title, mortgage, or lien from one person to another, conveyancing is a necessary stage in every real estate transaction, whether you are buying or selling a property. Knowing what to expect in terms of the conveyancing process can go a long way to ensuring a smooth real estate transaction, removing some of the stress involved in buying or selling a home.

In Canada, the conveyancing process differs from province to province. This article will address the process specific to British Columbia conveyancing laws.

What You'll Need

  • Property conveyance will require a real estate or conveyancing lawyer, one each to represent both sides of the transaction. To complete your conveyance, your lawyer may need:
    • At least one piece of government issued ID with your photograph and signature, and another piece of ID that has your signature. A driver's license and credit card are commonly used.
    • The full (legal) name and occupation of the person(s) who will be on title.
    • The name and contact information (including fax numbers) for your insurance agent, banking representative, management company (if dealing with a strata), and REALTOR®.
    • If you are the buyer, your home buyer status. First time home buyers can be exempt from property transfer taxes in BC, provided the buyer has lived in British Columbia for at least a year, has never owned any real estate prior to this purchase, that the property will be used as a principal residence, and that the purchase price is $475,000 or below.
    • Any site surveys related to the property.
  • You will want to make sure you have enough to cover all of your conveyancing costs, which may include:
    • Lawyer's fees and REALTOR® commission.
    • Disbursements and taxes, including the BC Property Transfer Tax.
    • The insurance binder, title insurance, strata certificate, and move-in fees if the property in question is a strata.
    • The insurance binder, title insurance, and site survey if the property in question is a single family home.
  • Other documents that are not necessarily required but that you may encounter include property deeds, certified checks, bank drafts, promissory notes, mortgage documents, and tax liens.

The Conveyancing Process in BC

  1. Once you have chosen a law firm to handle your conveyance, your selected conveyancing lawyer will collect your information, the signed purchase and sale contract, and any conveyancing or mortgage instructions.
  2. Once they have all the necessary documents, your conveyancing lawyer will begin reviewing the information involved (known as the "due diligence process"). They will go over the property title, review any mortgages, and investigate any outstanding taxes or other charges that might affect the final transaction.
  3. You conveyancing lawyer will then prepare all of your documents and collaborate with your bank, insurance company, REALTOR®, and the other party's law firm to get everything in order. Two copies of the transaction documents are prepared: one for the property buyer, and one for the property seller.
  4. Shortly before the closing date, you should have an appointment with your conveyancing lawyer to sign the property transaction documents. After the signing is done by both the seller and the buyer, the property deposit will be collected and processed. Depending on the law firm, if you are the buyer your lawyer may request the funds in the form of a bank draft or certified check.
  5. Before the transaction is completed, all of the documents are reviewed again and a title search is performed to check for any remaining issues. Once everything is satisfactory, the documents are filed and a second title search is performed.
  6. The payment is then paid to the seller and the keys to the property are exchanged — they may be passed to your REALTOR® who will then pass them on to you. Your conveyancing lawyer will also typically provide a final report stating that the property has been transferred.
  7. Using the funds from the purchase, the property seller then pays off any remaining mortgages or other charges and provides proof of the payment to the buyer’s lawyer. A discharge of mortgage form is then signed and registered at the land title office, and the buyer’s lawyer can order a state of title certificate; this whole process can take a month or two. Once the buyer has received state of title certificate, the conveyancing process is complete.

A good REALTOR® can be an invaluable asset in the conveyancing process by recommending reliable real estate law firms, answering questions, and guiding you through the process. Make sure to communicate clearly and openly with both your real estate agent and conveyancing lawyer, and your property transaction should be smooth sailing!