We act in a variety of BC Land Title matters including the purchase, mortgage, and sale of residential property. We recognize that the real estate market is dynamic and that every transaction is inherently unique, however we invite you to visit our FAQ’s below for general information that may be of assistance to you. You will note that we have also provided more specific information for First-Time Home Buyers and Distance Clients on separate tabs. Further, if you have a question that has not been addressed here, we encourage you to contact us directly. Should you require a more immediate or transaction-specific response, however, your real estate professional is also a good resource.

  • Residential Property Seller FAQ’s

    Why do I need a Notary?

    Answer:

    If you have any charges on your title to be released or arrears to be paid from sale proceeds you will require legal representation to assure the purchaser by way of professional undertaking that funds will be directed first to their full payment. If this is not the case, however, you are entitled to self-representation with the exception of the requirement to have your signature notarized on the Transfer of property. Most vendors find that the incremental cost for full representation above the cost of merely witnessing the Transfer is more than warranted given the significance of the transaction and the additional services offered.

    When does the Notary typically get involved in the transaction?

    Answer:

    While available as a resource to our clients beforehand through their Realtor, we are typically notified of a transaction once it is firm and binding (after removal of all subject clauses). While we may receive a copy of your contract from your Realtor, presumably with your consent, we would not proceed without first contacting you for confirmation to act on your behalf.

    What happens as vendor once subjects are removed?

    Answer:

    Once your transaction is firm and binding and we receive notification of your upcoming transaction, we gather the necessary information from you by telephone or through our Property File Starter page. From that point, the burden is shifted from you and your Realtor and rests with us. Additional documentation is received from your Realtor and mortgage lender, as applicable.

    We liaise with the purchaser’s representative and other parties involved with the file. You will have an appointment with us usually within the week prior to completion to sign documents and review closing financial statements. The exchange of title for funds takes place on the completion date and you provide keys through your Realtor by noon of the possession date. Full reporting follows by mail. We are at all times throughout the process and thereafter available to field your questions or confirm the status of your file.

    As vendor, what are the typical costs to anticipate from the conveyancing process?

    Answer:

    There are transaction costs and there are adjustments. Adjustments are debits and credits between the parties for costs of ownership such as property tax, condo fees, etc. and are accounted for in closing statements. Transaction costs, however, are the out-of-pocket costs incurred in the sale itself. The main costs to be anticipated are any mortgage discharge penalties or fees levied by the lender and the legal account (Get a Quote).

    Is there anything I can do to reduce my mortgage penalty?

    Answer:

    For closed mortgages, lenders are often entitled to charge a penalty for early repayment. Such a penalty is usually the GREATER of either three months’ interest or the interest rate differential to end of term (“IRD”). When rates are low, IRD penalties can be quite onerous and their calculation not entirely transparent to the borrower.

    Aside from negotiating your own terms with your banker, the most significant thing you can do to mitigate such a penalty is to exercise any prepayment privileges available to you under your mortgage. By reducing the outstanding principal, you reduce the penalty by approximately the same percentage. In the event you do not have sufficient funds available to you to make the prepayment, be sure to ask us how we can help.

    When can I expect to receive my sale proceeds?

    Answer:

    It is on the completion date that the purchaser, through their legal representative, is obligated to “make available” to the vendor the sale proceeds. As your representative, we then send for the funds, usually by courier, and deposit same to our trust account before paying out as previously authorized by you. Whether we can provide you with funds on the same day or early the next business day is dependent upon the time of day we were able to send for the funds and the lender we may be paying out.

    Since the purchaser is not contractually obligated to a particular time of day and is often relying upon the funding of a mortgage, it is best to gear for a next day payout. As part of our service to you, however, we will upon request deposit your proceeds to your account at a local branch of your bank.

    This article provides more detail about the payout process: When will I Receive my Sale Proceeds?

    Why try to avoid completions right before the weekend?

    Answer:

    As discussed above, you may not receive sale proceeds until the business day following completion. At the very least you will lose the weekend’s interest on your money but even more annoying is that you would pay per diem interest on your still outstanding mortgage until it is received by the lender. Long weekends and other holidays are that much worse!

  • Residential Property Buyer FAQ’s

    When does the Notary typically get involved in the transaction?

    Answer:

    While available as a resource to our clients beforehand through their Realtor, we are typically notified of a transaction once it is firm and binding (after removal of all subject clauses). Presumably with your consent, we may receive a copy of your contract from your Realtor and/or mortgage instructions from your lender but we would not proceed without first contacting you for confirmation to act on your behalf.

    What happens during the conveyancing process?

    Answer:

    Once we receive notification of your upcoming transaction, we gather the necessary information from you by telephone or perhaps we have already received your information through our Property File Starter page. From that point, the burden is shifted from you and your Realtor and rests with us. Additional documentation is received from your Realtor and mortgage lender, as applicable. We perform various due diligence searches regarding title, property taxes, condominium accounts, etc. and prepare the appropriate documentation and statements for the transfer of title/placement of a mortgage. We liaise with the vendor’s representative and other parties involved with the file. You will have an appointment with us usually within the week prior to completion to sign documents and review closing financial statements. Not later than the morning of the completion date, you provide us, in trust, with certified funds to complete the transaction. The exchange of title for funds takes place on the completion date and you receive keys through your Realtor by noon of the possession date. Full reporting follows by mail. We are at all times throughout the process and thereafter available to field your questions or confirm the status of your file.

    What are the typical costs to anticipate from the conveyancing process?

    Answer:

    There are transaction costs and there are adjustments. Adjustments are debits and credits between the parties for costs of ownership such as property tax, condo fees, etc. and are accounted for in closing statements. Transaction costs, however, are the out-of-pocket costs incurred in the purchase itself. Before the conveyance process begins, these may include mortgage application, appraisal and/or brokerage fees, home inspections, condo forms and the like. The main costs to be anticipated from the conveyance process are the Property Transfer Tax, Survey/Title Insurance if required by your lender, and the legal account (Get a Quote).

    What incentives are available to home buyers/owners?

    Answer:

    There are a variety of grants and rebates offered to home buyers and owners by different levels of government and financial institutions but they vary from time to time and are not universally applicable. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, however, provides a very helpful summary of the major programs. See additional programs for First-Time Home Buyers under the relevant tab.

    How is the Property Transfer Tax generally calculated and what exemptions are available?

    Answer:

    Generally speaking, the tax is triggered at the time an interest in land is transferred and is calculated as 1% of the first $200,000, 2% up to $2,000,000, and 3% of the balance of its market value. Foreign buyers are subject to an additional 15% tax unless qualified for exemption as a PNP. While there is a variety of exemptions for non-arm’s length transactions, the two most commonly used for unrelated parties are those offered by the First-Time Home Buyer Program and the Newly Built Home Exemption. For greater detail and additional FAQ’s about the PTT generally, we recommend a visit to the PTT info pages of the BC Government site.

    Is there a legitimate way to reduce the Property Transfer Tax payable other than by way of an exemption?

    Answer:

    Under certain circumstances involving multiple, unrelated owners we are able to mitigate the PTT payable by up to $2,000. If you will be co-owning a property with one or more other person(s) not related to you (including siblings), we can discuss such options with you when confirming your file matter with us.

    Does the additional 15% Property Transfer Tax for Foreign Buyers apply to me?

    Answer:

    In addition to the usual 1% of the first $200,000, 2% up to $2,000,000, and 3% of the balance of market value, an additional 15% tax is payable by “foreign” buyers of residential property in the Greater Vancouver Regional District per the BC Ministry’s Information Sheet. In order not to trigger the additional tax, “non-foreign” buyers are required to provide evidence of a valid Social Insurance Number (not beginning with a “9”). While compliance is at all times strictly enforced, there is an expectation that some of the underlying definitions/criteria relating to the additional tax may gradually be softened for certain categories of “foreign” buyers.

    Are refunds of Additional Property Transfer Tax available?

    Answer:

    Yes, but only for very specific circumstances. For qualification criteria and application forms, visit the Refunds information page of the BC Government site.

    How is the Property Transfer Tax calculated for Pre-Sold strata units?

    Answer:

    In simple terms, pre-sold units are those where the purchase contract is made with the developer before the strata plan is filed, sometimes months or years ahead of title transfer. In order for purchasers of pre-sold strata units to be better able to anticipate their PTT obligations, the Ministry amended the Act in 2004. Accordingly, the PTT for such units is calculated as 1% of the first $200,000, 2% up to $2,000,000, and 3% of the balance of net consideration paid rather than market value and ALL pre-sold strata unit PTT returns will be audited. For greater detail and additional FAQ’s about the PTT generally, we recommend a visit to the PTT info pages of the BC Government site and, in this regard, specifically Bulletin PTT 024. The administrator of this section will also field enquiries for unique situations such as assigned units or other ownership changes made between the time of original contract and title registration.

    Is PTT payable even if I transfer my interest in real property for free? If so, how is it calculated?

    Answer:

    Assume that PTT is payable at time of Transfer unless an exemption can be claimed. There a variety of exemptions for non-arm’s length transactions but in many cases PTT will apply. When it does, the calculation is based on the share of the property’s market value being transferred.

    What is a survey and what does one cost?

    Answer:

    A survey certificate perform by a BC Land Surveyor is an accurately measured diagram of the footprint of the improvements to a property and its relation to the boundaries of the lot. Surveys can reveal encroachments onto or by the subject property in relations to neighbouring properties. Surveys of dwellings on typical Lower Mainland city lots range around $350 but individual circumstances must also be taken into consideration which could impact on the cost.

    What is Title Insurance and what does it cost?

    Answer:

    Some lenders will accept Title Insurance as an alternative to their survey requirement while others insist on it. While relatively new to BC, title insurance has existed in other jurisdictions for over a century. Starting at $179 (to afford protection only to the lender) it is recommended that you contact a provider directly to assess for yourself the relative merit of title insurance for you, the equity holder (for an additional fee based upon property value), as compared to a survey certificate. Three popular title insurance providers are First Canadian Title (“FCT”), Chicago Title, and Stewart Title. FCT has a Quote Calculator and has provided the following information regarding their Homeowner Policy but please note that due to our high conveyancing volume, our firm can often arrange a policy for you at less cost than other firms or than the brochure or calculator suggest:
    HomeOwnerBrochure
    HomeOwnerCoverage

    How is the GST handled if I am buying newly constructed property?

    Answer:

    As it takes place at closing, we will assist with your remittance to the developer of the GST. Home buyer rebate bulletins and forms are available online for your preview but we will complete the requisite documents as part of our service to you. On the other hand, application for post-closing rebates such as those associated with rental property would be made by you directly to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). For your convenience, the rental rebate bulletin and forms are available online for your completion and submission directly to CRA.

  • Mortgage Financing FAQ’s

    When does the Notary typically get involved in the transaction?

    Answer:

    While available as a resource to our clients beforehand through their broker or banker, we are typically notified of a financing transaction upon receipt of mortgage instructions from your lender. While presumably sent with your consent, we would not proceed without first contacting you for confirmation to act in the matter.

    What happens once mortgage instructions are received?

    Answer:

    Once instructed by the lender, we gather the necessary information from you by telephone or through our Property File Starter page. From that point, the burden is shifted from you and your banker/broker and rests with us. We perform various due diligence searches regarding title, property taxes, condominium accounts, etc. and prepare the appropriate documentation and statements for the placement of a mortgage. We liaise with the lender’s representative and other parties involved with the file. Sometimes, additional documentation is obtained or prepared as necessary to satisfy any outstanding conditions and meet your lender’s pre-funding requirements. You will have an appointment with us usually within a day or two prior to funding to sign documents and review closing financial statements. Funds are distributed on the date set by you and your lender then full reporting follows by mail. We are at all times throughout the process and thereafter available to field your questions or confirm the status of your file.

    What are the typical costs to anticipate from the financing process?

    Answer:

    Before the financing process involves us, there may be out-of-pocket costs such as mortgage application, appraisal, and/or brokerage fees, condo forms and the like. The main costs to be anticipated from the conveyance process are the Survey/Title Insurance if required by your lender and the legal account (Get a Quote).

    What is a survey and what does one cost?

    Answer:

    A survey certificate perform by a BC Land Surveyor is an accurately measured diagram of the footprint of the improvements to a property and its relation to the boundaries of the lot. Surveys can reveal encroachments onto or by the subject property in relations to neighbouring properties. Surveys of dwellings on typical Lower Mainland city lots range between $350-$450 but individual circumstances must also be taken into consideration which could impact on the cost.

    What is Title Insurance and what does it cost?

    Answer:

    Some lenders will accept Title Insurance as an alternative to their survey requirement while others insist on it. While relatively new to BC, title insurance has existed in other jurisdictions for over a century. Starting at $100 (to afford protection only to the lender) it is recommended that you contact a provider directly to assess for yourself the relative merit of title insurance to cover yourself, the equity holder (for an additional fee based upon property value), as compared to a survey certificate. Three popular title insurance providers are First Canadian Title, Chicago Title, and Stewart Title. FCT has a Quote Calculator and has provided the following information regarding their Homeowner Policy but please note that due to our high conveyancing volume, our firm can often arrange a policy for you at less cost than other firms or than the brochure or calculator suggest:
    HomeOwnerBrochure
    HomeOwnerCoverage

    If I am paying off and existing mortgage, is there anything I can do to reduce my mortgage penalty?

    Answer:

    For closed mortgages, lenders are often entitled to charge a penalty for early repayment. Such a penalty is usually the GREATER of either three months’ interest or the interest rate differential to end of term (“IRD”). When rates are low, IRD penalties can be quite onerous and their calculation not entirely transparent to the borrower.

    Aside from negotiating your own terms with your banker, the most significant thing you can do to mitigate such a penalty is to exercise any prepayment privileges available to you under your mortgage. By reducing the outstanding principal, you reduce the penalty by approximately the same percentage.

    In the event you do not have sufficient funds available to you to make the prepayment, be sure to ask us how we can help.

    When can I expect to receive my mortgage proceeds?

    Answer:

    Whether we can provide you with funds on the same day or early the next business day is dependent upon the time of day we receive new proceeds from your lender and can complete the payout of existing mortgages or debts. Either way, however, as part of our service to you, we will upon request deposit your proceeds to your account at a local branch of your bank.

    Why try to avoid funding right before the weekend?

    Answer:

    As discussed above, there is a slight possibility that you may not receive sale proceeds until the business day following the anticipated funding date. At the very least you will lose the weekend’s interest on your money but even more annoying is that you would pay per diem interest on your still outstanding mortgage until it was repaid on Monday. Long weekends and other holidays are that much worse!

  • First-Time Home Buyer FAQ’s

    At Maguire & Company, we know that a first home purchase is an exciting time in the life of anyone fortunate enough to realize this dream. While there is much to know and organize in what seems to be a relatively brief period, remember to keep it fun! Use the resources available to you here and through your Realtor to become informed and in control of your home purchase. It is because we take the extra time with our first-time clients to explain and guide them through the conveyancing process that they make such great repeat customers! To get started, we recommend that you begin with a look at the general Residential Property Buyers FAQ’s. Then below you will find FTHB-specific information which will be of particular interest to those new to the process.


    Where can I get objective information about home buying incentive and assistance programs?

    Answer:

    A good place to start would be CMHC and both Federal and Provincial government websites. They have general information regarding home buying and various incentive programs. Note that the criteria to qualify as a “First-Time Buyer” vary from program to program.

    How do I qualify and apply for the First-Time Home Buyer Property Transfer Tax exemption?

    Answer:

    There are a number of criteria which must be met prior to and for the first year after the registration of your first home in order to qualify under this program for exemption from the PTT. Having never owned a home before is just one of many factors to be considered. If it is your expectation to participate in this program, we recommend that you preview the Guide to the First Time Home Buyers’ Program and review the PTT FTHB program page. If you are still unsure about their interpretation for your particular circumstances, you may also contact the PTT Info Line by telephone at 1-250-387-0604 (tip: enter “2” for PTT and once the menu is offered, hit “0” to reach a real person). As part of our service to you, we shall complete the PTT Return/Application for Exemption form for you to be signed at your appointment.

    What's the difference between Property Transfer Tax and property tax and what is the Home Owner Grant?

    Answer:

    PTT is a provincial tax triggered upon transfer of property whereas property taxes are paid annually (usually in the middle of the calendar for which they apply) to the taxation authority responsible for the area in which the property is located. Rural taxes are collected by the BC Government Agent for areas in the Province not within a municipal jurisdiction but most property taxes are billed by and paid to the appropriate “City Hall”. Regardless of the collector, however, a provincial grant (the Home Owner Grant or HOG) is available, subject to eligibility, to those who own the property in which they live and is claimed at the time of payment.

    How do I qualify and apply for the BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership?

    Answer:

    In an effort to assist First Time Home Buyers with a downpayment, the BC government offers an interest-free five year second mortgage under certain conditions. Visit the HOME page for more FAQ’s and to learn about the qualification and application process.

  • Distance Client / Non-Resident FAQ’s

    If you are new to BC real property transactions, we recommend that you begin with a look at the general information found on our residential property seller and buyer tabs. Below you will find Distance Client and Non-Resident information of particular interest to those not located here or who will be away at time of closing their transaction.


    If I cannot attend at your office to sign transaction documents, what are my options?

    Answer:

    You may either sign the necessary documents in your location or give Power of Attorney authorizing someone here to sign on your behalf (subject, if applicable, to your financial institution allowing execution of mortgage documentation by PA). In both cases you will attend before a certifying officer but individual circumstances and timing will determine which of the two options has greater merit for you. As our client, we would be pleased to help you assess a preferred course of action upon your contacting us.

    Whom do I call upon for advice, to explain the documents, and to represent my interests?

    Answer:

    We represent our distance clients as fully as our local clientele. Whether at distance or by Power of Attorney, the fact that we do not meet personally is largely overcome by our ability to communicate at your preference through telephone, fax, email, or Skype. We are available for guidance and to answer questions throughout the conveyancing process so you should not require more than identification and witnessing services from the certifying officer in your location.

    If I prefer to sign for myself, how will I receive and return the documents?

    Answer:

    Our distance clients receive an emailed PDF document set including step-by-step execution instructions. While most of the documents can be signed without a witness, there will be a few that must be ‘notarized’. Once completed, the signed pages may simply be faxed/emailed back to us for closing. We appreciate the originals eventually being returned to us by mail/courier for file/lender reporting but in most cases it is not technically required and certainly should not hold up registration.

    How many documents actually need to be 'notarized'?

    Answer:

    Technology overcomes many time and distance barriers but it is still a requirement with property transactions in BC that the parties thereto be formally identified. Given the significant values and responsibilities involved, most people already appreciate why this is important, but it is also required by the Federal Government under their FINTRAC compliance regime. In addition to the simple process of identification, however, very few of the transaction documents actually require a professional witness. These would usually be limited to Land Title documents such as a Transfer (by seller) or Mortgage (by borrower) and/or an affidavit/declaration (if applicable). We recognize that in some parts of the world, having a document “notarized” can be expensive so we are careful not to ask more of our clients than necessary and we provide them with detailed document execution instructions.

    Who can act as a Certifying Officer?

    Answer:

    If the transaction requires you to sign a document to be registered in the BC Land Title Office, it will need to be witnessed by a certifying officer such as a Notary Public, Lawyer, Canadian Consular Services Abroad, or other official authorized under the Evidence Act to take affidavits for BC.

    If I would prefer to appoint Power of Attorney, what kind would I need for BC Land Title use?

    Answer:

    The BC Land Title and Survey Authority (“LTSA”) requires compliance with very specific criteria for a Power of Attorney (“PA”) document to be accepted for filing in support of a land title transaction such as a transfer or mortgage. If you are contemplating the use of a PA for your upcoming transaction, we suggest that you take a look at our PA FAQ’s in our Planning Documents section to learn the difference between Enduring and Non-Enduring, general and specific PA’s before deciding which one is right for your situation. Also, it is highly recommended that the document be in the form customarily used in BC and, ideally, drafted by a BC Notary or lawyer. Of particular note, the September 1, 2011 change to BC’s Power of Attorney Act created significant new execution requirements for Enduring PA’s (while those dated prior are grandfathered.) The LTSA responded with a Practice Bulletin in an attempt to clarify registration criteria and it is worth reviewing with your Realtor if this is the type of document you intend to use for your upcoming transaction. As our client, we would be pleased to help you assess your particular PA document requirements upon your contacting us.

    If I must transfer funds into Canada to complete my purchase, what are my deadlines and options?

    Answer:

    Our trust accounting regulations require that we must receive guaranteed Canadian funds not later than the morning of the completion date (though we recommend the day prior). This may take the form of a draft or wire transfer arranged through a recognized Canadian financial institution either directly by the client or through a foreign exchange agent. We recommend that our clients contact their preferred foreign exchange agent and/or financial institution to compare rates and options well in advance of closing to avoid potential complications or delays due to international banking technicalities. It is, after all, essential that the necessary funds be “liquid and local” in time to close.

    If my sale proceeds are ultimately to be received outside of Canada, what are my options?

    Answer:

    Our trust accounting regulations require that we must issue our trust cheque for sale proceeds in Canadian funds and the timing of that is most often not later than the day after the completion date. There is no additional charge for us to deposit this cheque into a local branch of a Canadian bank and then your account manager may execute your futher instruction. Some clients, however, request that our cheque be converted into a bank draft and couriered to their investment manager while others request that funds be transmitted by wire transfer. Typically, wire tranfers will be arranged through a recognized Canadian financial institution following the wire instructions provided by the client. We recommend, however, that our clients contact their preferred foreign exchange agent and/or financial institution in advance to compare rates and options well in advance of closing to avoid potential complications or delays due to international banking technicalities and ever-changing exchange rates.

    If foreign exchange rates are a factor for me, what are my options?

    Answer:

    As you may know, most bank services include currency exchange and yet, while convenient, are not known for offering the best rates available (although some will match). Considering the large sums usually involved in a real property transaction, it would be well worth looking into the services and rates offered by alternative foreign exchange brokers. One local example is the Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchnage. You may view VBCE posted rates online but for larger sums, you can often secure a “preferred” rate by speaking with one of their brokers. Many of our clients have saved thousands in this way!

    As a non-resident of Canada, what additional procedures are involved when I dispose of an interest in Canadian real property?

    Answer:

    A non-resident disposing of real property situated in Canada must notify Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) as required in Section 116 of the Income Tax Act. Notification is made by preparation and submission of form T2062 and possily also T2062A.

    The Vendor may apply directly or with the assistance of an authorized agent, often an accountant. Upon remittance of any tax payable or upon satisfaction that none is payable, CRA will issue a Clearance Certificate which allows the purchaser to release the full amount of the sale proceeds to the vendor. For more detail, please refer to these articles written for The Scrivener magazine – “Real Estate and Non-Residents: Things You Should Know” and “Non-Resident Dispositions: Did You Report Your Rental Income?”

    What if I have not received my Clearance Certificate from CRA before the completion date of my sale?

    Answer:

    The purchaser is obligated to withhold part of the sale proceeds until the non-resident has obtained a Clearance Certificate. Depending on the use of the property, the amount to be withheld by the purchaser pending issuance of the Certificate is either a flat 25% of the price (if for personal/family use only) or calculated as 25% of the total proceeds allocated to the land and 50% percent of the total proceeds allocated to the building (if ever income producing).

    It is generally in the best interest of the vendor(s) to file form T2062 as soon as possible once the contract of sale is firm and binding to mitigate the length of time sale proceeds are withheld. Under circumstances where the holdback would not leave sufficient funds to payout an existing mortgage at time of sale, a claim of hardship may be accepted to expedite significantly the usually 4-8 week CRA turnaround.

    In any event, we are available to liaise on behalf of our non-resident clients with their accountant and CRA and can, if so directed, place holdback funds at interest to their benefit. For more detail, please refer to my article for The Scrivener magazine entitled “Non-Resident Vendors: The Big Holdback”.

  • Property File Starter

    To get your file underway we will need a few things, starting with a copy of the firm contract from your Realtor’s office. (Just give them our name and they’ll know what to do.) Once that is in hand, we will want to gather additional information from you and, in that regard, we will normally contact you about three weeks before completion. Some of our clients, however, prefer to provide some of their particulars online ahead of time in order to reserve our availability for their incoming file. By phone or online, either way we look forward to working with you!


    Click here to be taken to our Property File Starter page