I am often asked how much to buy or sell my house?

Most clients pay about $1,000.00 for a sale and about $1,800.00 for a purchase all inclusive.  I would want to know much more about your deal before giving a more accurate estimate or quote.

Can you do any better?

I’m cheap too, but at least I’m smart about it.

Firstly, we sell a service, not a commodity like a car or an appliance (even there, I would pay a large premium for after sales service!). I don’t use the cheapest dentist or accountant in town, do you?  We are a one office, three lawyer, 2-3 law clerk operation. Our clerks are very experienced in real estate transactions. The lawyer/staff ratio allows us to  closely supervise our staff and have a lawyer return your call if needed. We are not a “mill”.

Secondly, it amazes me that the same clients that haggle over a hundred dollars or so in fees do not even care about the value received for their money. Most lawyers charge little or nothing extra to review the agreement BEFORE it is signed, potentially saving the client from a huge mistake. The “hagglers” often call just before closing when the lawyer can do the least amount of good.

Thirdly,  no two deals are the same. A single person selling a “cookie cutter” home in a subdivision comes close, but add in estate considerations (for elderly clients), tax readjustments (for recently built homes), complex documentation review (all condos and new homes), title repair (often owners who have lived at the same house forever), tier B and private mortgagees (each with unique requirements), last minute negotiations for property damage or financing issues, and it is easy to see that some deals require greater effort and attention, the very thing lawyers charge for.

Finally, I have seen many lawyer’s bills in my career. I am convinced that our clients get excellent value for their money in a business that is so competitive that rates charged do not reflect the cost and risk involved in acting on a transaction.  Why do we continue to offer residential real estate services to individuals (many firms got out of the business)? Our services include many things besides real estate. We want clients, not deals.

That is he mindset of who you are haggling with.

Who should not use our services?

People who can’t communicate in English – our small staff means that we can only offer services in English.

Hagglers – see above.

Fraudsters – We cooperate with police / RCMP investigations where it is apparent that fraud has occurred.

Who should (we hope) use us?

We value referrals from realtors (they control the business, after all) but we put the clients interest ahead of protecting the agent’s commission (and repeat referrals) in the rare instance the two are at odds. Check our website for any upcoming free breakfast seminars on topics of interest to real estate professionals.

Our preferred client is a small business owner who may avail themselves of other services such as Wills, Family Law and Litigation services.  It bears repeating that we want clients, not deals.


Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FOR A SIMPLE DIVORCE?

This memorandum is intended to answer the most frequent questions relating to simple divorce proceedings.   DO I NEED THE DIVORCE? Most people do not realize that a divorce judgment initiates a 2-year limitation period for spousal property claims which may be needed where there is no separation agreement. Of course, without a divorce, your “ex-spouse” is still your “spouse” for estate purposes, and on an intestacy would inherit by law a preferred share of your estate. Just generally, it makes sense in many ways to clean up and simplify your affairs.   ‘SIMPLE’ v. ‘UNCONTESTED’ We use the term “simple” divorce to refer to an uncontested divorce proceeding in which the only relief requested is a divorce judgment based on grounds of marital breakdown by reason of a separation for at least one year. An uncontested divorce that is based on other grounds such as adultery or cruelty, or in which there is other relief requested such as support or property division, involves slightly more time and effort. For example, where there is any type of financial relief claimed, the divorce applicant must prepare and file a detailed financial statement even if there will be no opposition to such relief in a final divorce judgment.   GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE Under Section 8 of the Divorce Act, a spouse can obtain a divorce from the other on grounds of marital breakdown which can be proven by showing that the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year before the judgment. (The Court application can in fact be commenced before the expiry of that one year term.) Adultery and cruelty are other evidence that supports marital breakdown, and permit a divorce earlier than one year; but those grounds require somewhat inflammatory allegations. Most couples are prepared to wait the one year period to obtain a simple divorce.   COURT PROCEDURE InCanadaa divorce can only be granted by a Court judgment. Judgment can be obtained in most circumstances without a court attendance, using written affidavit evidence.   WHAT DO WE NEED FROM YOU? When you come to us for a simple divorce, please have the following information or documents: 1. The marriage certificate; 2. Information relating to each spouse and the marriage including the date and place of birth, and particulars of any prior marriage of either spouse, including the divorce decree or judgment: 3. Details of the other spouse’s address for service (if you do not know it, we need as much information as we can in order to initiate a search for the other spouse); 4. If you seek to include in the divorce judgment any financial matters such as support or property, then we need information about your income and assets to complete a financial statement.   LAWYER FEES Our fees are based on time spent. In the usual simple divorce our fees do not exceed $400.00 plus H.S.T.   OTHER COSTS The most common disbursements and other fees for a simple divorce are: The most common disbursements and other fees for a simple divorce are: Issue Application Court Fee $157.00 Search Registry Gov’t Fee $10.00 Service by Process Server (Est.) Fee (higher for multiple attempts, foreign spouse) $64.20 Motion for JudgmentCourt Fee $280.00 Court clerk for Filing Attendances + GST (Est.)Fee $53.50 Certificate of...

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Un-bundled legal services

Posted by on Aug 12, 2012 in Articles | Comments Off on Un-bundled legal services

Prospective Client: “I want justice!” Lawyer: “How much justice can you afford?” Client: “I make $12 an hour” Lawyer: “So do I, but I charge $250 an hour because of overhead. I also have a $5,000 insurance deductible if I make a mistake” Client: “Legal Aid said I make more than $19,000.00 annually so no luck. I can pay you $500 now and $500 in a month or two. My court date is in 3 weeks” Lawyer: “I can write the Court and ask for a lengthy postponement because an important witness, “Mr. Green” is absent (Lawyer motions in direction of client’s wallet) Client: “I thought the Charter gave me a right to a lawyer if I get into serious trouble” Lawyer: “That’s only at the time of arrest,  not for going to court, when you really need one, and not for civil / family / housing cases” Client: “Can you help?” Lawyer: “In the past I would limit my retainer, but now there is this new thing called unbundling” Client: “What’s that?” Lawyer: “Think of it as hiring your surgeon only for only the most challenging parts of your surgery, and leaving the routine parts such as anesthesia and sewing the incision back up for you to do” Client: “What a good idea, you do less so you can charge less?” Lawyer: “Exactly. We do less and have less control so there is a greater chance you will botch up somewhere and make a claim against me. In this way we can increase access to justice for low income people like you” Client: “Where do I sign? Lawyer: “Right here. Check off those parts of your lawsuit / crisis that you want me to handle and those parts you will be doing yourself. (Lawyer reviews form with client) Client: “I’ll chose Pleadings” Lawyer: “Good choice, that’s $200” Client: “I’ll chose for you to show up at the court” Lawyer: “Good choice, but please note that advocacy is extra” Client: “What’s advocacy?” Lawyer: “An extra $300…$400 if I know the Judge” Client: “Nah, I think I’ll skimp on that, I have to cut somewhere” Lawyer: What about investigation, answering correspondence, and reporting” Client: “I don’t need all the bells and whistles, here’s $500” Lawyer: “Thank you. Are you perfectly clear on what unbundled services are your responsibility and what are mine?” Client: “Absolutely,  it’s all spelled out on the form. Hiring a lawyer was cheaper than I thought!”   Sheldon Tenenbaum...

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Master’s Papers

Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Articles | Comments Off on Master’s Papers

Click here to download

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Mortgage Lectures

Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Articles | Comments Off on Mortgage Lectures

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Radon Testing

Posted by on Mar 15, 2012 in Articles | Comments Off on Radon Testing

Radon Testing So you are ready to buy your new house.  You have checked that your Home Insurance Policy will cover the $100,000.00 soil removal and remediation costs arising from any leakage in the capped oil tank outback.  You have checked the tap water for lead levels.  You have done a spore counttest for mould in the damp basement.  You have checked for asbestos in the walls and insulation of the home.  You have even made sure that your neighbour appears to be a warm and friendly human being. But Wait! Have you checked for radon levels in the occupied areas of your home?  I recently attended a lecture given by Scott Cryer at PinchinEnvironmental  Ltd. and I was left with the impression that you better have. By way of background,Pinchin Environmental Ltd. (905-363-0678) is a company used by some of our clients to conduct environmental testing, monitoring, and remediation supervision associated with the purchase and management of ICI properties.  According to Health Canada, an investigation of 9000 homes nationwide revealed that approximately 7% of Canadian homes have radon levels in excess of the Canadian Standard of 200 bequerels per cubic metre, our standard being twice the World Health Organization standard of 100 bequerels per cubic metre.  The Canadian standard was recently dropped from 800 bequerels per cubic metre.  According to Health Canada,” on average, 10% of lung cancers are attributable to radon exposure worldwide. In 2006, an estimated 1,900 lung cancer deaths in Canada were due to radon exposure. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking”.  While this far exceeds the number of annual Canadian deaths due to gunshots and fire, it is almost ignored by the press because the effects are long term. You can test for radon.  Home Depot sells kits and so does Pinchin Environmental.  The cost is about $100.00 including lab fee.  Unfortunately Health Canada recommends that the tests occur over at least 90 (ninety) days to account for many differences thataffect levels of radon including the use of heating, airconditioning, temperature outside, open windows and other factors.  You can however get a shorter snapshot result in 2 (two) days.  The preferred method is a small ionization chamber left in the area to be tested, but away from meddling children / pets.  In most houses the highest radon level and therefore the area to test would be the basement apartment (assuming you even care about the nanny or basement tenant), or if you are like me, the living room where you watch TV and fall asleep on the couch. I have a few of these units at my law firm that you can buy from me at cost. We are a long way from having every house being tested and registered for radon levels in the way Toronto restaurants are forced to post their health inspections.  I am not sure I want to know my radon levels and very slightlymore uneasy that a third party laboratory will know my radon levels.  Until recently it seems that no one seemed to care about radon levels.  In effect the government and real estate industry had stuck their collective heads in the sand about the issue.  Mr. Cryer would agree that having your head in the sand is about the worst place you...

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