Every real estate transaction involves—among other things—a considerable amount of paperwork. The average person might find it a bit daunting to read, understand, and process it all. For this reason, it is always advisable to have a legal professional help you work through the details.  The question then arises whether it is better to go with a lawyer or a notary for a real estate transaction. This question is often followed by wondering what the exact difference is between the two. It’s a good question well worth asking, and we’ll answer it here by looking at the main points of comparison: education and duties.

Becoming a Notary or a Lawyer

When most people think of lawyers, they imagine what they see on TV: years of study and offices full of law books. Lawyers actually do commit several years to learning their craft, working hard to obtain an undergraduate degree and a law degree. They are also required to pass a provincial examination and article at a law firm for one year before they can practice.

Notaries also require an undergraduate degree, as well as a Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies. They then go on to write statutory exams and train with the Society of Notaries, where they complete a mentorship and must pass the society’s final exam.

Responsibilities: What Do Notaries and Lawyers Do?

Notaries and lawyers will appear similar in that they both deal with legal matters. When dealing with the average, simple real estate transaction, you will most likely be satisfied with either type of representation. Whether you are dealing with a notary or a lawyer, they will:

• Determine that you are purchasing the property from the rightful owner by conducting a title search.
• Prepare the Statement of Adjustments. This details the amount of money being transferred between the buyer and the seller. This may include the reimbursement of pre-paid bills.
• Prepare the closing documents.
• Contact the seller’s lawyer. This will be done to register the transfer and see to it that the seller is paid.

So, if both notaries and lawyers can complete the tasks, what are the differences between the two?

In the event of a dispute, a lawyer can represent you in court, whereas a notary cannot. The lawyer is also able to provide you with legal advice if issues should arise between the time that the offer is accepted and the possession date.

With that in mind, some might automatically think that it is in their best interest to hire a lawyer, but consider the fact that lawyers who mainly practice conveyance (the transfer of property from one owner to another) would be unlikely to bring a court to case themselves. Similarly, if litigation should prove necessary, a notary would be just as capable of referring you to a trusted partner.

Ultimately, while there are differences between notaries and lawyers, both can ensure that all of your needs are met, allowing for a smooth and simple transaction. While lawyers may be able to represent you in court, litigation and conveyancing are two different specialties, and you will benefit from having a specialist notary on your side.  If you need a notary for a real estate transaction in Burnaby, Coquitlam, or New Westminster, you can contact Uptown Notaries on North Road.