I’m Buying A House on PEI – Do I Need A Lawyer?

Sellers will frequently list their homes with a real estate agent, required to be licensed in PEI, with an agreement to pay typically 5-6 % commission upon the sale of the property, although this commission is sometimes negotiable. But in general, the real estate agent represents the seller, and it is highly recommended that purchasers hire an attorney to ensure their best interests are protected, In fact, if you are getting a mortgage, your lending institution will most likely insist that you engage a lawyer. Buying a house is a big investment for most people, often the largest transaction of their life. Having your own lawyer to protect your interests can save you lots of headaches down the road. What are some of the things your lawyer can help you with?

  • The buyer has a right to request a title search at his/her own expense to ensure there are no liens or outstanding debts owed by the seller.  If the vendor will not or is unable to eliminate any liability for whatever reason, the vendor may cancel the contract and return any deposit to the interested buyer. Your lawyer can advise you on how best to proceed in these cases, and how to make sure you don’t accidentally take on someone else’s problems.
  • Contingencies may also be included in the purchase agreement, such as the sale of the purchaser’s current home, a successful home inspection, the completion of certain repairs by the seller, or the acquisition of a building permit if improvements are intended for the property. Your lawyer has been through all this before, and they can make sure all the important contingencies are covered.
  • If you are a potential buyer, a non-resident of PEI and wish to purchase more than five acres of land or shore-front property in excess of 165 feet, you must apply to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) for an exemption.  An application must include a completed application form, an orthophoto or GeoLinc map of the parcel(s) outlined in red, a legal description of the subject parcel, details of recent advertising of the land on the local real estate market, and a fee of $550 or 1% of the agreed purchase price, whichever is greater. Your lawyer can help you through this process, and let you know what to expect.
  • When purchasing real estate for commercial use, the zoning of the property before investing should be confirmed to avoid any unforeseen obstacles.  The Planning Act of PEI delegates the municipalities responsibility for zoning regulations as defined in their bylaws.  If the property is beyond the boundaries of a municipality, it will be necessary to contact the Island Inspection Services with the Prince Edward Island Department of Communities, Land and Environment.  Your lawyer can assist you with the interpretation of these regulations.
  • To finance the purchase of real estate with a mortgage, the lending institution will send the mortgage information to your attorney to draw up the contract.
  • The deed has to be prepared by the vendor at the vendor’s expense.  Closing costs, including title search, registration of the deed and mortgage, etc. are paid by the buyer; however, many costs are negotiable between the buyer and seller to secure a final contract. An experienced lawyer can help you with this negotiation.

Protect your interests!  Let us represent you for what could be the most important transaction of your lifetime.