Buying a Home: The Role of the Notary

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Your offer to buy a home was accepted! The pre-purchase inspection didn’t turn up any nasty surprises. The bank has approved your loan. Next stop: the notary’s office to sign the deed of sale!

Why go to a notary?

The notary plays an important role in the sale of a home. The notary helps you finally become the proud owner of the home you purchased. Most home sales go through a notary, even if this is not absolutely necessary.

A deed of sale drawn up by a notary is an “authentic act” in Quebec law. This means that no one can contest the information it contains, such as the date and the price of sale.

The notary must check and do several things to finalize the sale. This provides protection for both the buyer and seller. Here are some of the notary’s many responsibilities:

Examining the title deeds

This enables the notary to confirm that the seller really owns the home in question. Otherwise, the “seller” has no right to sell it! The notary checks all the previous deeds of sale of the home.

Drawing up the deeds

The notary draws up the deed of sale based on the accepted offer to purchase. The notary also prepares the deed of hypothec (mortgage), if you are using one to finance the purchase. Only a notary can prepare a deed of hypothec.

Registering the deeds

The notary registers the deeds of sale and hypothec at the Bureau de la publicité des droits (registry office). Registration serves as proof that you are the new owner of the home.

Handling the money

The notary must also handle the money involved in the sale. The funds go through the notary’s trust account. This is a special account used only for the notary’s clients.

The notary must ensure that the funds provided by the buyer are available to pay for the sale. For this reason, you may have to give your cheque to the notary a few days before the sale is set to take place.

If the seller had a hypothec on the home, the money from the sale must first go the pay this debt. The notary will then have the hypothec discharged (cancelled).  The notary will then pay the rest of the sale price to the seller.

Remaining impartial

The notary must provide information to the buyer and the seller in an impartial manner. If you are uncertain about any steps – and especially any documents you must sign – be sure to ask questions!