When should legal counsel be retained in a real estate transaction?
I would say legal counsel should be retained from the get go. Even when you start incorporating a company, which will make things right for you. Because a lot of times, by the time we see a company’s records books, it’s full of mistakes and we have to spend time fixing those mistakes before we can proceed with doing the actual work.
The most common mistake when it comes to commercial law is people trying to drive their own contracts by pulling templates from the internet. Sometimes they do not realize that the templates they have found online don’t apply in BC or in Canada. Another common mistake is getting lawyers involved too late in the process. At that stage, the problems can be much more difficult to fix.
When it comes to real estate, let’s talk about buying a property. Ideally, clients will retain us from the very beginning of the process, prior to signing the contract. But often lawyers are not involved in this process until the contract has been signed. At this point, there could be some non-beneficial clauses included in the contract that have been signed off on. And since the contract has already been signed, it is very difficult to change any of the clauses. But by retaining us from the beginning, we can review the contract for the client. And if there are some clauses that are not beneficial, we can point it out to the client or at least assist in making an informed decision.