Real Estate Lawyer, Agent, and Attorney — The Simple Difference

Imagine never having to deal with real estate in Canada, not even getting close, and one day — getting thrown into the field with no knowledge of it at all. Who can help you with your purchase: a real estate lawyer, like MB Law, a real estate agent, or a real estate attorney? The short answer is all three, but it’s a bit more complicated.

What Counts as Real Estate Deals

Real estate is everything related to buying or selling land or buildings. It’s not just about buying mansions or selling small condos in residential areas. The field includes:

  • Land plots;
  • Commercial property;
  • Countryside property or vacation homes;
  • Everything in the mortgage field;
  • Lease and rent.

It’s a vast field, so if you’re new to it and never had to deal with real estate before — navigating it on your own might be challenging.

Why Any Help in Real Estate is Beneficial

In short, because large sums of money are involved, and with big money come big risks. A tiny  mistake in your paperwork can break your deal and waste your time; you might lose both the budget and the property. Everything can go wrong — from minor mistakes to major fraud.

The bottom line is that any help gets you a much better chance of a successful deal. Even if you hire a real estate attorney or agent, it doesn’t mean that you need to be involved in everything.

Who Can Help You With Real Estate Deals

The terms real estate lawyer, real estate agent, and real estate attorney are often used interchangeably. In fact, it’s a mistake and a dangerous misconception.

  • Real estate agent will help you navigate the market;
  • Real estate lawyer will help you navigate the laws;
  • Real estate attorney is the same as real estate lawyer, it’s just the wrong term.

Here’s the difference, explained.

What Real Estate Agents Do

Real estate agents are professionals with a wide field of expertise, such as:

  • Getting ready to buy and sell;
  • Helping you understand your taxes (most agents can advise you);
  • Advising you on buying or selling property;
  • Arranging a loan or mortgage;
  • Helping bring down your interest rate (if needed);
  • Help you find the right home for you.

Some real estate agents have different duties and tasks, which is why it’s often not enough to just hire one agent, especially for complex deals. You often have to engage many agents from different fields: a real estate lawyer, an accountant, and a mortgage broker.

What Real Estate Lawyers Do

Real estate lawyer will help you with the legal part of your deal. If you’re in Canada, it means all paperwork related to deeds and legal documents. Their field of expertise includes:

  • Arranging agreements;
  • Verifying and reviewing contracts;
  • Performing title searches;
  • Helping you collect and understand the paperwork for the purchase;
  • And most importantly — representing you in court in case the deal goes wrong.

A real estate agent has no legal right to practice law. They can help you with paperwork as well, but a lawyer knows how to defend — or deny — every statement from the agreements you sign.

What Real Estate Attorneys Do:

Real estate attorney is the same as a real estate lawyer in Canada. The word “attorney” is rarely used in the professional field in this context because it’s not a Canadian tradition (it works the same way in Australia and the United Kingdom). The right way to call an attorney in a traditional sense in Canada would be “barrister”. However, when it comes to the modern real estate field, you’ll hear “real estate lawyer” 95% of the time.

Which One Do You Need?

In a perfect world where you have sufficient funds, it would be best to hire both a real estate lawyer and a real estate agent. This combination would eliminate the majority of risks associated with large purchases.

However, if you have to choose just one — a real estate lawyer is a better option, because they can legally protect you from losses and represent you in legal matters and help you navigate through the Canadian court system.

Final Advice

Hiring any real estate lawyer won’t help and possibly will make the situation even worse. You need to find a well-established and reputable law firm you can rely on. It’s easy to find a company or a lawyer that claims they will make your deal successful, but you can never know if they will actually help you. It’s your money and your property that are at stake, you have to be sure that the person you pay to will put enough effort into protecting it. Pay attention to their experience, reputation and reviews. A little research can save your case.