Insurance claims against Ontario real estate lawyers cost their insurance company an average of $20.7 million a year, according to a fact sheet published last week by LawPRO, the Law Society’s insurance company. LawPRO provides mandatory errors and omissions insurance coverage to Ontario lawyers.
The fact sheet is intended to assist lawyers so they can avoid insurance claims, but it is also useful as a guideline for purchaser clients on what they can expect from their real estate lawyers to avoid problems in real estate transactions – which are typically single-family, owner-occupied homes or condominiums.
Based on the LawPRO document, here are some questions clients should be asking their real estate lawyers:
Should real estate clients expect a personal meeting with their lawyers? LawPRO tells real estate lawyers that they should meet clients in person at least once.
“Take the time,” it tells lawyers, “to meet with the client in person to review the transaction and understand client instructions, particularly with respect to the client’s intended uses of the property. Not every matter is straightforward, and you don’t want to have to be addressing a problem that was only noticed the day of closing, or never noticed at all.”
Real estate transactions involve far more than the clerical processing of paperwork, a quick signup meeting, and handing over keys or money.
But it is also useful to remember that of all lawsuits against Ontario real estate lawyers, only 16 per cent result in a claims payment.
Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and frequent speaker to groups of home buyers and real estate agents.
He can be reached by email at email@example.com, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818.
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