Generally, legal fees charged by a law firm in relation to a residential real estate transaction are not billed as other legal work would be (where the practice of hourly billing is utilized). It is standard practice in Alberta that lawyers will charge a flat rate plus disbursements.
Disbursements vary according to the value of the property and include items such as land titles fees, courier services, tax searches, bank charges, estoppel certificates and any other out of pocket costs that the law firm pays on the clients’ behalf to facilitate the closing of the transaction.
Depending on the law firm chosen, the legal fees portion of a purchase transaction (including a mortgage) could range from $1000-$2200. Disbursements on a typical purchase transaction typically range between $400-$800. The most important factors influencing the amount of disbursements incurred will be the value of the property and the amount of the mortgage being registered as land titles fees vary accordingly.
Legal fees on residential sale transactions tend to be lower as there are fewer disbursements. Typical fees charged on a sale range from $800-$1200 while disbursements generally range from $200 – $250. The most important factors influencing the amount of disbursements incurred will be the requirement to obtain an estoppel certificate (if it is a condominium) and the number of payouts required to be made by the lawyer following closing (mortgages, liens and other financial encumbrances).
It is always a good idea to ask the law firm for a quote prior to engaging them on your real estate transaction. In order to ensure the accuracy of the quote, be sure to provide the law firm with all the required information.
Information provided by
Douglas Robertson LLP