How to Pick a Lawyer for Mortgages, Refinancing, and Buying or Selling a Home

Why Use a Real Estate Lawyer for My House Purchase or Sale?

Here’s the scenario. When we get a new Alberta real estate transaction sent to us here at RMLO Law LLP in Edmonton, I take a look at what lawyer/law firm is representing the other party. Normally it’s a law firm that does a lot of real estate. Great, that means that we will be working with somebody who understands how real estate works with respect to timing, documentation, and nuances of this legal specialty. What I hate to see is if the law firm is better known for their expertise in other legal specialties, such as divorce law or litigation.

Yes, we are all lawyers but it’s an age of specialization. Let’s use the medical field as an example. You have your basic family doctors and then all the specialists. If you tell your family doctor your eyes are giving you trouble, he/she doesn’t send you to a cardiac surgeon, you get referred to an ophthalmologist. Pregnant moms get referred to an ob/gyn, not a psychiatrist. You get the picture.

It’s the same thing with real estate law. Non-real estate lawyers will have a basic understanding, but chances are they won’t have that in-depth experience that you will find in a full-time real estate lawyer. Our checklists are hundreds of items long. We understand the subtleties and timing for mortgage preparation, what is acceptable for compliances, how to get new real property reports, and how to solve problems relating to these documents, rush closings, possession issues, the list goes on.

You might want to ask your potential real estate lawyer these questions (courtesy Law Society of Alberta website):

Twelve Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer

On Knowledge, Skill and Experience

  1. How long have you been in practice? How many matters like mine have you handled before?
  2. How long have you practiced at this particular firm?
  3. In what areas of law do you practise?
  4. Are you a partner or an associate?
  5. How much of your practice is devoted to my particular problem area?

On Time and Accessibility

  1. Do you have enough time to deal with my problem quickly?
  2. How quickly can I expect resolution?
  3. When can we meet?


  1. How do you charge for your services?
  2. Approximately how much will your services cost me in total?
  3. Do you provide your clients with a detailed written statement of fees?
  4. Do you charge anything for the first meeting?


These are all good questions but here’s a really good one:

“Do you like practicing real estate law?”

I think you’re better off with a lawyer who loves real estate law rather than someone who just does it to fill holes in their practice.

The bottom line is, if you are buying, selling, or financing a property, whether it’s residential or commercial, investment or owner occupied, then you are far better off with a full-time real estate lawyer and not a lawyer who merely dabbles in real estate law.

I’ve been a lawyer for over 40 years, and my practice is specialized in real estate because that’s what I love. If you’re buying/selling a house, home, condo, apartment, farm, acreage—or any other type of commercial or residential property in Alberta—get in touch now.


“Justice Law Canada” image by Monam used under CC0 Public Domain Dedication.