Closing costs: How much will the lawyer charge me?

I had a phone call today from a client who is looking to purchase a house in Saskatoon.  Previous to my discussion with him, he had phoned his mortgage broker to ask how much he should have saved up for lawyer costs in terms of closing his transaction.  The banker had told him 1.5% was a good rule of thumb.  The client then phoned me to confirm this and subsequently give me a somewhat jokingly hard time for charging so much.  His purchase price is to be in the neighbourhood of $300,000.00, thus he thought ‘my fees’ of $4,500.00 were quite stiff.  I would gladly encourage clients to pay me $4,500.00 for my legal services, however that would be a tad steep.  Rather, banks will overestimate closing costs, and lawyer fees are only one part of these costs.  In addition to legal fees, there are Land Titles fees, a property tax adjustment, an interest adjustment, title insurance/surveyor certificate and other miscellaneous costs (tax searches, title searches, courier charges, etc) that a lawyer must collect for.  In a ‘worst case scenario,’ a purchaser could see closing costs of 1.5%.  Usually however, it is less than this.  Below is a rough idea as to what a purchaser of a residential property could expect to pay their lawyer in Saskatoon.

Typical legal fees on a residential purchase in Saskatoon will vary from lawyer to lawyer and vary based on the purchase price of the property.  There is no true maximum amount that a lawyer can charge their client on a residential real estate transaction; however, the recognized principal is such that it must be reasonable in light of the particular transaction.  ‘Reasonableness’ may seem vague, but it suggests the importance of a client phoning more than one lawyer to obtain a ‘quote’ for legal fees at the time they are looking to finalize their transaction.  Generally speaking, the more work involved in a real estate transaction, the more a client will pay to their lawyer.

Mike Derbowka

Cuelenaere Kendall Katzman & Watson

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