COVID-19 & REAL ESTATE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This information is for discussion purposes only, and does not constitute or replace legal advice.
Frequently asked questions for Real Estate Clients
Will my purchase or sale complete?
We are continuing to complete real estate transactions. Law firms and banks are making best efforts to comply with the provincial and federal guidelines while ensuring the successful completion of your real estate transaction.
Is Alberta Land Titles open?
Alberta Land Titles Remains open, however counter service has been discontinued. Should Alberta Land Titles fully close, online services will likely remain intact. If online services remain intact, a Title Insurance Policy may be an option for closing the transaction. Your Lawyer will discuss this with you.
Can I change my possession date?
Many clients have expressed the desire to move the possession date forward. In order to change the possession date both the buyer and seller need to agree.
NOTE: Where a mortgage is involved, an amendment to a possession date may result in an amendment to mortgage documents. Lenders are operating on delayed schedules currently and in some cases with limited staff. Additional time may be required to get new documents from the lender to the lawyer, get documents signed and request for funds submitted. An amendment to possession could inadvertently put a buyer in a position to close late. Please discuss with the lawyer before making an amendment to a possession date.
Can I get out of my real estate transaciton due to COVID-19?
Contractually, you are obligated to fulfil the terms of the contract. If you breach the contract, the vendor may bring a claim against you for any loss incurred as a result of the breach.
IMPORTANT: Should you encounter delays due to COVID-19 please advise your lawyer ASAP. We will do our best to obtain a suitable solution.
Do I have to sign documents in the presence of a lawyer?
Strict hygiene protocols to protect our clients, staff and their families.
To limit direct contact when attending the office, a phone conference will be scheduled with your lawyer prior to signing to review your documents in detail and answer questions.
You will attend the office to execute documents that require original signatures or must be signed in the presence of your lawyer.
All documents and meeting rooms are sterilized with UV light.
All reporting and copies of documents will be provided to you digitally following signing.
Clients who are to be quarantined, or showing symptoms of COVID-19, will not be seen and provided the option to sign documents via video conference where permissible.
The video conference must be recorded, and occur via a secure app or platform.
Immediately following signing, the client must send a PDF version or photograph of the signed documents to the lawyer.
Many lenders do not allow for document execution via video conference. Lenders that are agreeable require the buyer to pay for a lenders title insurance policy.
Originally executed documents must be acquired by the lawyer for submission to Land Titles.
What if there is a “lock down” or further restrictions on businesses deemed essential before or during my possession?
This is new territory for all of us. However, “Lawyers" and "Businesses that support the legal system” is one of the categories deemed essential in Alberta under current regulation, and in Ontario during the “lock down” starting at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday (March 24).
I am experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 and am worried about making my Mortgage Payments, what can I do?
You may be eligible for assistance.
In light of the current health crisis that is affecting all Canadians, more and more people are worried about their finances and particularly, their mortgage payment. Most lenders already have some sort of skip a payment or defer a payment option built into their mortgage products and right now they are helping their clients by waiving any associated fees that would normally be incurred to use such option. Contact your lender as soon as possible if you are at risk of missing a payment to learn more about what is available to you. In addition to some policies already in place, Canadian mortgage insurers (CMHC, Genworth, Canada Guarantee) are working with lenders to further assist by creating stronger default management programs for those with insured mortgages. These programs will still be facilitated through your lender. This may include:
Allowing payment deferral up to 6 months on insured mortgages
Converting a variable rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage to protect you from a sudden interest rate increase, should one occur.
Offering a temporary short-term payment deferral. Your lender may be prepared to offer greater payment flexibility, particularly if previous lump sum pre-payments have been made, or if you have previously chosen an accelerated payment schedule.
Extending the original amortization (repayment period) in order to lower your monthly mortgage payments. Adding any missed payments (arrears) to the mortgage balance and spreading them over the remaining mortgage repayment period.
Offering a special payment arrangement unique to your particular financial situation.
These are on a case-by-case basis
Contact your lender BEFORE any payments are missed if you can (lender phone numbers are provided below)
As customer service lines are swamped, it may take 1-3 business days (or longer) for a response and hold times on calls will be elevated. In the meantime, please review the Government of Canada website for updated information about business or financial aid. Many representatives will ask if you've reviewed this information.
Further information for CMHC insured mortages is aviable HERE
Mortgage Lender Contact Numbers