Frequently Asked Questions
What does Fee Simple Law need to get started on my real estate transaction?
In order to get started on your sale or purchase we’ll need the following information: the full legal names of the seller(s) or buyer(s), the best phone number and email to contact you, the address of the property you are selling or buying, the Completion Day (when you move in or move out), any condition dates, your mortgage account number and bank/lender information (if you have one), your real estate agent (if you have one), marital status (if you are single, married, or legally divorced), a copy of your purchase or sale contract, a copy of your Real Property Report (RPR) with Municipal Compliance, and you'll need to provide photo ID (driver’s license or passport). The best way to get us this information is through our on-line intake form.
Property insurance - why does Fee Simple Law need this information?
Banks will not release your mortgage funds to Fee Simple Law until we confirm that you have property/fire insurance in place. It is important that you list your bank as first loss payable on your insurance policy as your bank has an interest in your property. If you are purchasing with cash, you do not need to provide insurance, but we strongly encourage you, as the buyer, to make sure you have insurance coverage on your new home prior to the completion day.
Marital status - why does Fee Simple Law need this information?
The Dower Act of Alberta requires Fee Simple Law to make sure that any person with a legal right of ownership to a property is aware that the property is being purchased, sold, or re-financed.
Appointment time – why do I need to make an appointment to sign documents?
You’re busy – we understand. We want to make your appointment as simple as possible. The Land Titles Act of Alberta requires Fee Simple Law to get a “wet ink” signature from all clients. This means we must physically see you sign your land transfer documents (including your mortgage). Some of your documents can be signed electronically and we’ll do our best to make that happen when we can. However, please note that we will need to see you in person to sign documents.
What if I am out-of-province and cannot sign at Fee Simple Law?
If you are not able to sign with Fee Simple Law, you will need to sign the land transfer documents at a Notary Public in another province or another country. Please be aware that this may take some time to facilitate so please let Fee Simple Law know well in advance that you will need to sign out-of-province. Also, please be aware that additional fees may apply in order to facilitate this process.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) – what if I am an agent to sign on behalf of someone else?
You can use an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) to sign on behalf of someone else. Please advise Fee Simple Law in advance that you plan to use an EPA as not all EPAs provide that the attorney can sign land transfer documents. Also, please note that Land Titles Office requires the original EPA or an original “wet ink” notarized copy in order to transfer land, and the Land Titles Office keeps the EPA provided for their records. Depending on the EPA you will also be required to provide original or notarial copies of the doctor's notes.
When should I contact Fee Simple Law?
Once the buyer and the seller have reviewed all documents to their satisfaction and they have waived all the conditions of the real estate contract, the buyer and seller have a firm deal. This means that neither party can back out of the deal without legal repercussions. Now, it is time to contact Fee Simple Law with the details of the real estate contract. You can do this by calling our office or by visiting our website and completing our on-line intake form. The buyer and seller should instruct their real estate agents to send the conveyancing instructions to Fee Simple Law. And, the buyer should instruct their lender or mortgage broker to send mortgage instructions to Fee Simple Law.
Can Fee Simple Law act for both the buyer and seller?
Yes, we can act for both the buyer and the seller on a real estate transaction. In fact, we prefer to act for both sides because it reduces any communication issues that may delay the purchase or sale. It also makes for a transparent transaction because any information received cannot be treated as confidential so far as the other party is concerned. There are exceptions when the mortgage lender requires the buyer to have a different lawyer from the seller. If this is the case, we will let you know well in advance and advise each party of their options. Similarly, if a major dispute were to arise, then we would advise each party of their options and the opportunity to seek independent legal counsel.
Real Property Reports (RPR)
Real Property Report (RPR) – what is it?
A Real Property Report or RPR is an overhead drawing of your property which shows the property lines and the location of all current improvements on the property, such as the house, garage, shed, deck, fences, etc. This document is important because it shows that these improvements are included with the property and are within the property lines. It also enables the municipality to review the improvements to ensure that they comply with the municipal by-laws, and that the proper permits were pulled when everything was built. This is important because, for example, should the deck not meet the building code, it may need to be removed. If there is no RPR or the RPR is not current and complete, then the purchase or sale of the property may be delayed or even terminated.
Municipal Compliance – what is it?
A Real Property Reports (RPR) must be accompanied by a Letter of Municipal Compliance or a Stamp of Municipal Compliance from the town or city where the property is located. This confirms the property complies with the municipal by-laws. If there is no Municipal Compliance with the RPR, then the RPR is not complete, and the purchase or sale of the property may be delayed or even terminated.
Land Surveyor Certificate – what is it?
A Real Property Report (RPR) must be accompanied by a Letter or a Stamp that states that the RPR was prepared by a certified Alberta Land Surveyor. This confirms that the RPR was prepared to the standards of the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association. If there is no Land Surveyor Certificate with the RPR, then the RPR is not complete, and the purchase or sale of the property may be delayed or even terminated.
Who provides the RPR?
Most Residential Purchase Contracts dictate that the seller must provide the RPR. If you are selling your property, we highly recommend that you have an RPR prepared before you list your property for sale. This will give you plenty of time to resolve any matters that may delay the sale of your property.
I’m buying – should I review the RPR?
Yes – the buyer should review the RPR and Municipal Compliance prior to removing financing or inspection conditions. Some lenders require that the buyer have an RPR with Municipal Compliance. It is not enough to accept that the seller will provide an RPR – as it may not be current. If a seller is reluctant to provide an RPR with Municipal Compliance, it could mean there is a problem with an improvement to the property. For example, the deck may have been built without a permit.
What do I look for on an RPR?
There is no magic to understanding an RPR. If there is a house, a garage, a deck, a pergola with a hot tub, and a fence on the property – then you need to look at the RPR to ensure there is a house, a garage, a deck, a pergola with a hot tub, and a fence showing on the RPR. If something is missing, you need to ask for an update or a new RPR. If you have any questions about your RPR and the Municipal Compliance Letter, we encourage you to contact the Alberta Land Surveyor who prepared it or the municipality who issued the letter.
Do RPRs expire?
RPRs do not expire. So long as all the current improvements are showing on the RPR and the Municipal Compliance is current – the RPR and Municipal Compliance should be satisfactory. However, some banks do not accept RPRs that are more than 10 years old. If you are buying, you should check with your bank to see if a new RPR with Municipal Compliance will be needed.
Can the buyer accept an RPR “as is”?
Yes, if the buyer is agreeable to accepting an RPR and Municipal Compliance “as is” then the buyer can do that. In this situation, it is important to delete clause 10.2 from the AREA contract that states the seller will provide a current RPR and Municipal Compliance and delete clauses 6.1 (d) and (e) (i) and (ii) which address the Municipal Compliance. Then, it is important to include in 9.2 Other Terms – that the buyer will accept the current RPR and Municipal Compliance “as is” and include the date that the RPR was prepared.
Do I need an RPR if I am going to sell my house to a builder?
If someone is buying your house to knock it down or do significant renovations to the outside property, then an RPR may not be necessary as the new owner will need to get a new RPR showing the new improvements to the property. In this situation, it is important to delete clause 10.2 from the AREA contract that states the seller will provide a current RPR and Municipal Compliance and delete clauses 6.1 (d) and (e) (i) and (ii) which address the Municipal Compliance. Then, it is important to include in 9.2 Other Terms – that the buyer will accept the current RPR and Municipal Compliance “as is” and include the date that the RPR was prepared OR the buyer agrees that no RPR will be provided.
Trees – are they on RPRs?
No. Trees do not appear on RPRs. That said, be aware that some fence lines or structures may be built around trees which is why they may appear to be in a strange location on the property.
What is the Property Tax Adjustment?
No one likes paying taxes – we get it! However, the buyer and seller are each responsible to pay property taxes for the period of time that they own the property. Taxes are calculated from January 1 to December 31 of the calendar year. So, for example, if the property is sold on May 15 then the seller is responsible for the property taxes for the period of January 1 to May 15 and the buyer is responsible for the property taxes for the period of May 16 to December 31.
How do we know what the taxes are?
At Fee Simple Law, we request a tax certificate for the property from the municipality in which the property is located. Then, we adjust the taxes owing, right down to the penny, on the Completion Day to ensure that the buyer and seller each pay the portion of the taxes for which they are responsible.
Why am I paying an adjustment for taxes if they have already been paid?
Municipalities differ on how and when they collect property taxes. Some have monthly plans and others have different dates when taxes are due in full. If the seller has already paid for the entire year’s taxes but is not responsible for the entire year’s taxes (because they are no longer the owners of the property) then the seller is credited back the portion of property taxes for which the buyer is responsible. Municipalities do not refund taxes, so the buyer must reimburse the seller for the portion of property taxes that have already been paid.
What is TIPP?
Tax Instalment Pre-payment Plan (TIPP) is available in most municipalities across Alberta. By signing up for TIPP, taxpayers can make manageable monthly payments to their property tax account. To be eligible for the TIPP program, your current year property tax account must be paid in full.
Do I have to join TIPP?
No. You can pay your yearly taxes when they are due at your municipality. Contact your municipality for more details about payment methods.
Can my taxes be added to my mortgage payments?
Yes, some lenders can set up a tax account and pay your taxes for you. This means your lender will collect monthly tax installments in addition to your monthly mortgage payments. Your lender will then pay your yearly property taxes on your behalf.
What is a Tax Holdback on my mortgage?
If your mortgage company is paying your taxes, they will start collecting them in July. If you are buying in a month other than July, then the holdback is the amount that the mortgage company needs to collect to bring your mortgage payments up to speed as if you were paying them since July. If for example your tax payments are $200.00 and you buy your house in October, then there would be a tax holdback for July, August, and September (3 months x $200.00 = $600.00).
Why am I paying an adjustment for the TIPP if I am not on it?
If the Seller of a property was on the TIPP program they may have pre-paid their taxes and have a tax credit with the municipality. Municipalities do not refund taxes. Therefore, the Buyer must purchase the tax credit and the tax credit remains with the property. This credit will then be applied towards the property taxes when they become due.
Tax Arrears – what if taxes are still owing?
If there are unpaid taxes in arrears, then the Seller will be responsible to pay for those taxes owing on the property before it can be transferred.
What is a Walk-through?
As a courtesy, the seller often allows the buyer to “walk-through” the property on the Completion Day to ensure that the property is in the same condition as at the time the buyer viewed the property. This is facilitated by the real estate agents. Please note this is only a courtesy and most Residential Purchase Contracts do not provide that a “walk-through” will be allowed. If it is very important for you to view the property on the Completion Day, be sure to make this a term of your Residential Purchase Contract.
What happens if there is a problem with the appliances on Completion Day?
Your real estate agent should be there right up to the Completion Day and helping with any last-minute questions or issues. Fee Simple Law does not visit the property and we cannot answer any specific questions about problems that may arise on the Completion Day, such as cleanliness issues or broken items. If, for example, there are any issues such as a broken dishwasher, then the real estate agents should help negotiate the terms to which that will be repaired or replaced and instruct Fee Simple Law accordingly.
When do I legally own the property?
Most Residential Purchase Contracts provide that the transaction becomes official at 12pm (noon) on the Completion Day. However, you legally own the property once we have released your purchase funds and the real estate agents have released the keys to the new buyer. Sometimes this transaction occurs before 12pm (noon) according to the instructions from our clients. Once the Buyer instructs us to release the money – the property is sold – and keys are releasable immediately.
What’s a Holdback?
A holdback is NOT provided for in most Residential Purchase Contracts. That said, if the Buyer and Seller are agreeable to a holdback, one may be used in circumstances where something is wrong with the property on the Completion Day. For example, a storm damages the roof of a property. In this case, a holdback may be negotiated for $5,000 to be held back (not released) to the Seller of the property until the insurance company looks at the damage. The holdback provides incentive to remedy the situation and the money may be used to fix the roof or pay for the insurance deductible if need be. If, for example, the insurance deductible is needed and it costs $1,000 then that amount goes towards the roof repairs and the remaining $4,000 is released to the Seller.
I’m selling – why do you need my Mortgage Number?
Fee Simple Law ensures that your existing mortgage is paid in full and removed from title. In order to do this, we need to know the name of your lender, your mortgage number, and the approximate balance owing so that we can request a mortgage payout statement.
What is a mortgage payout statement?
A mortgage payout statement is a statement from your bank that provides the amount that needs to be paid in order to fully pay off your mortgage so that it can be removed from the title of the property you are selling. This will include the balance remaining on your mortgage, any applicable payout penalties and any accrued interest. You should check with your lender to see if there is a penalty for paying off the mortgage before your term is complete. It is important that you contact your bank or mortgage lender to fully understand what is expected of you to have your mortgage discharged from the land title. Again, we can only complete the transaction according to the instructions we receive from your bank or mortgage lender. If you have questions about any of the terms or conditions of your mortgage, you should ask your bank or mortgage broker these questions directly. They are aware of your financial situation and the best people to answer questions related to your mortgage.
I’m buying - what do I need to know about my mortgage?
A mortgage is a loan that gets registered on the land title certificate of a property. At Fee Simple Law, we register or discharge your mortgage according to the instructions we receive from your lender and/or your mortgage broker. Our job is to ensure that your mortgage is registered according to the agreement you signed with your mortgage lender. There are many different mortgage products available and we cannot answer specific questions about those products. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to speak with your bank or mortgage broker should you have any questions.
How do I get my mortgage information to Fee Simple Law?
Please let you mortgage broker or bank know that you are using Fee Simple Law, and ask them to send documents to us as soon as they can. Also, please go online and complete our intake form.
Why is the old mortgage still on title?
Once the title for money is transferred on the Completion Day, Fee Simple Law sends a request to the Seller’s bank to remove the mortgage registration from the Land Titles Office. Depending on the bank and the demand at Land Titles, this may take up to 6 weeks or longer.
Condo-docs – what are they?
Condo-docs or Condominium Documents are documents that you should review prior to removing your inspection and financing conditions if you are purchasing a condominium unit. These documents may include the recent minutes of condo board meetings, the by-laws of the condo association, and the reserve fund or money held by the condo board to repair the condo units. It is important to review these documents with a qualified professional so that you understand any special rules (such as no pets allowed) or any financial concerns (such as the condo needs a new roof but there is no money in the reserve fund to repair the roof). Fee Simple Law does not review condominium documents. However, a quick on-line search reveals the many options available.
Estoppel Certificate – what is it?
On Completion Day, the Condominium Board or Condominium Management Company must provide an Estoppel Certificate which certifies the current financial and governance situation of the Condominium Corporation, the Condominium Common Property and information on the Specific Unit. It identifies that the Condominium Property is insured and if any special resolutions have been passed that require the owner of the Condominium to contribute specific funds to the repair of that property.
Residential Purchase/ Sale Contracts
What is a listing contract?
A listing contract is what you sign with your real estate agent that outlines the terms of what you will pay your real estate agent to sell your property.
What is a Residential Purchase Contract?
A Residential Purchase Contract outlines the details as to when you will buy or sell a property. Fee Simple Law can only complete the purchase or sale of property in accordance with the real estate contract entered into between the Buyer and the Seller. Therefore, it is extremely important that you understand your real estate contract before you sign it. Please watch our video.
Can I buy or sell my property privately?
If you have already found a buyer or seller for your property (for example, a landlord is selling her property to a tenant) then Fee Simple Law can help put the contract together to facilitate this purchase and sale. One thing we cannot do is offer advice on the condition or the value of the property. However, if a buyer and seller can agree on a purchase price and the details of when the transaction will close (such as the condition date and Completion Day) then you can instruct Fee Simple Law to put that contract together according to the terms and conditions agreed upon. All we need to know is the names, the address, the price, and the date that the deal happens. Once we receive that information, we can put a contract together for you to sign and move the process forward.
What is title insurance?
Title insurance is an insurance policy that is designed to protect the new buyer, the home owner, against challenges to the ownership of the property or from problems related to the owner’s title to the property. A title insurance policy provides coverage against losses due to title defects, even if the defects existed before you purchased the property. We strongly encourage you to completely understand title insurance before you purchase it, and Fee Simple Law LLP is not responsible for any title insurance policy you may buy. Please read our FAQ: What’s the difference between Title Insurance and an RPR?
What’s the difference between Title Insurance and an RPR?
An RPR and Municipal Compliance creates more certainty about the structures on the property, and any possible defects with the current improvements on the property or Municipal Compliance. There is nothing wrong with title insurance, per se, however, it is just that – insurance. It only covers the new owner if a non-known defect is found with the property after the transaction has been completed. For example, a developer goes to build a new house beside you and it is determined that your garage is built on the neighbouring lands, title insurance would, theoretically, cover the costs of moving that garage or finding a solution to remedy the issue. However, like all insurance programs, there would be an investigation to see if anyone knew the garage was built outside the property lines, and title insurance may/ may not cover the cost to remedy any damages. Whereas, an RPR with Municipal Compliance will provide more certainty, in that, you will know/ not know that the garage or other structures are within the property lines before you commit to buying the property. We advise reviewing an RPR and Municipal Compliance as part of your property inspection.