What is the role of notaries in real estate transactions?
Last update : 2023-03-09 09:00:56
There are many experts involved in real estate transactions: real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, building inspectors, etc. Like them, the notary is one of the essential professionals that ensures the smooth running of any buying or selling process. However, their role is often underestimated.
While many believe that the sole function of the notary is to ensure that the various documents are signed during the transaction of a property, this is not the case. Their work is much more diverse. Their intervention, which is mandatory in Quebec, not only protects your assets, but also your rights.
Here is an overview of the role of a real estate notary.
What are the duties of a real estate notary?
Because of their excellent knowledge of Quebec law, notaries can determine the legal impact of your decisions and the documents you are about to sign. They can provide you with information and advice, as an impartial expert, on several aspects related to the sale or purchase of a home, such as:
- The terms and conditions to be included in the Offer to Purchase;
- The importance of verifying the certificate of location;
- The precautions to be taken when buying a property in joint ownership;
- The importance of verifying the declaration of co-ownership before acquiring a condo;
- The different forms of funding available;
- The legal implications of the various documents.
The notary acts primarily in a preventive manner, to ensure the legal and financial security of their clients during the transaction of a property. In some situations, they may also act as a mediator to resolve a conflict between two parties, for example in the case of a neighbourhood dispute or divorce.
The initial meeting between the notary and their clients
The first meeting between the notary and their clients represents an important step to enable the professional to find out the needs of the different parties involved in the transaction.
Although generally hired by the buyer, the notary must be impartial and make their expertise available to all concerned individuals. To do this, they must have an overview of the situation: down payment, type of loan obtained, type of dwelling, etc. This allows them to adapt their advice and services to better protect the interests of all.
Following this first meeting, the notary may take the necessary steps to ensure the validity of the titles and information provided by their clients. They will therefore act as an intermediary between the various individuals and professionals involved in the buying and selling process.
Collection and verification of information
After meeting their clients and identifying their needs, the notary will follow up with the various parties, in addition to confirming their identity to ensure that no fraud is committed.
They will also request all the documents necessary for the smooth running of the transaction and will examine the title deeds. All relevant information will be analyzed and verified. In particular, the promise to purchase, as well as the appendices, will be examined with a fine-tooth comb.
Unless it was built recently, the property probably has a long history of alterations and changes in ownership. Purchases, sales, mortgages, tax statements, rights of way and other easements are just a few of the things that will have to be validated by the notary. Their work will have to be rigorous so as not to leave anything to chance.
Production and publication of notarial documents
After verifying that all aspects related to the transaction are in order, the notary may proceed to the production of the notarial deeds. These legal documents are sometimes also referred to as authentic deeds. The parties concerned will have to sign them in order to make the transaction official.
As a first step, the buyer will have to sign the mortgage deed. The notary will then be responsible for explaining the financing terms and the repayment clauses contained in the contract, in order to ensure that their client makes an informed decision.
Once this step is completed, the notary must publish the mortgage in the Quebec Land Registry and hold, in a trust account, the sums required for the purchase of the property.
The expert will then bring the buyer and the seller together to sign the deed of sale, which formalizes the real estate transaction. This will also be published in the land registry.
Management and delivery of the sums to the parties involved in the transaction
When all legal documents are in order, the notary may distribute the sums due to the parties involved in the transaction. The purpose of the expert's money management is to ensure that any creditors of the seller who may have a claim on the property are paid off first.
The notary will therefore distribute the money from the sale in such a way as to:
- Pay the balance of the seller's mortgage;
- Pay the real estate broker's fees;
- Settle any other unpaid accounts related to the home.
The repayment of the seller's mortgage will allow the notary to acquire the mortgage discharge, which they will publish in the land registry. This proves that the property is indeed free of debts.
Even after the sale has been completed, the notary is responsible for keeping the authentic documents of the transaction in perpetuity. They must also provide copies to the seller and the buyer, as well as to their relatives and heirs when a request to this effect is made.
In addition to real estate transactions, a notary may also be consulted for advice in many other situations.
Find out more about notaries in our article How much does it cost to work with a notary in Quebec?
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