BC's sensible real estate system

At the office today, I assisted a client who is purchasing property in Saskatchewan. As part of the sale, not only was the client required to fill out documents to purchase property, but they also had to fill out a rental agreement to live in the property between the day when their purchase completed until the time when the registration system officially recognized their sale. Additionally, they had to prepare documents to "transfer back" property to the sellers in case the sale fell through, along with various affidavits to accompany it. The practice in Saskatchewan (and apparently Alberta as well although I may be mistaken) was to provide all of this information to the lawyers in case the transaction fell through between sending the title registration in and the funds being transferred to the seller. Even if it is rare that a lawyer may have to ever file the transfer back, I felt a little off having to explain to the client that the papers meant they might have to give their house back and leave within 48 hours.

In British Columbia, we rely on a combination of sensible undertakings between lawyers and an electronic title registration system that lets real estate transaction be registered on the same day as completion. Essentially, title documents change hands but the purchaser's lawyer undertakes to not file the document until the funds are received. As a lawyer, I can digitally sign a copy of the a transfer to upload when I have in my possession a signed copy. While both sides meet with their clients a day (or more) in advance to sign documents, such as the seller swearing they are not a non-resident and their residential property is used/not substantially renovated, the buyers and sellers can rely more on professional trust that on "worst case scenario" forms.

Buyers typically provide any funds by certified cheque a day in advance, and payouts are typically ready by 1 or 2pm on closing. This is not to understate the great work done by experienced legal assistants to prepare documents. Rather, to provide my thanks to conveyancers and lawyers before who have implemented a client friendly system.

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