Kim Lee

How much are lawyer fees when buying a house in BC?

How much are lawyer fees when buying a house in BC?
Table of Contents

Buying a home is an exciting but complex process that involves many expenses beyond the purchase price. Understanding and budgeting for the actual cost of buying a home is necessary to avoid surprises. On average, legal fees for a home with a mortgage range from $1300 to $2500. 

This comprehensive guide will explain the legal fees and associated closing costs when buying a house in British Columbia. This will help you understand the costs more upfront and confidently approach homebuying.

What are the Legal Fees in British Columbia?

Legal fees are a required consideration when buying a house in British Columbia. Hiring a lawyer or notary public is essential to navigating the legal aspects of the home-buying process. 

Understanding attorney charges will help you budget effectively and ensure a smooth transaction.

The Real Estate Lawyer’s Role in Home Buying

Lawyers and notaries play a vital role in the home purchasing process. They handle the legal aspects, including document preparation, title search, property registration, and funds transfer. They are also the experts you need to understand real estate law.

Their expertise helps with the transaction to comply with legal requirements and protects your interests as a buyer.

Understanding the Legal Fees of Real Estate Lawyers

Legal fees cover the cost of the real estate lawyer or notary’s work, including document preparation, contract review, correspondence, and reporting. 

The specific amount you pay will depend on the complexity of the transaction and the professional you choose to work with.

It’s important to note that these fees may vary depending on the scope of work provided and any additional charges or disbursements. In addition, the legal fee will vary depending on whether you hire a notary or a lawyer, as lawyer costs will generally be on the higher end.

4 Pro Tips on Negotiating Legal Fees with Lawyers

While legal fees can be a significant expense, there may be room for negotiation. 

Here are some tips for negotiating legal fees with lawyers:

  1. Shop around: Get quotes from multiple lawyers or notaries and compare their fees and offerings. This will help you better understand the market rates and make an informed decision.

  2. Ask for a breakdown: When discussing legal fees with a lawyer or notary, provide a detailed breakdown of the work included and any additional charges or disbursements. This will help you understand what you’re paying for and identify potential negotiation areas.

  3. Consider the complexity of the transaction: If your home involves complex legal issues or unique circumstances, it may warrant higher legal fees. However, confirming that the fees are reasonable and reflect an even exchange is important.

  4. Discuss fee structures: Some lawyers offer different fees, such as hourly or fixed fees. Discuss these options with your lawyer to determine which best suits your situation.

What is the Subject Removal Phase After Offer Acceptance?

The subject removal phase is a critical step in the homebuying process. 

Property Appraisal

A property appraisal is helpful in homebuying, especially if you’re putting at least 20% down. 

The lender typically hires an appraiser to confirm the value of the home you’re purchasing. 

While only sometimes required, property appraisals are a common practice. The cost ranges from $500 to $1200 plus GST. 

Your mortgage broker may cover this cost as part of their service, so it’s worth discussing with them.

Home Inspection

A home inspection is a must to check the property’s condition and identify potential issues. 

The cost of a home inspection varies depending on the size of the home but typically ranges from $500 to $1000 plus GST. The buyer bears the cost, and the inspection provides valuable information about the property’s condition.

In some cases, the seller may have already conducted a pre-inspection; in others, you may choose to waive the inspection clause altogether. 

Discuss the necessity and benefits of a home inspection with your realtor to make an informed decision.


The deposit is an important part of the home-buying process. In British Columbia, it is usually 5% of the purchase price. 

This deposit should be made out to the buyer’s agent’s brokerage in trust and will be held until closing. It forms a part of your down payment. 

Understand the specific deposit requirements and timelines outlined in your contract.

Are There Other Closing Fees to Be Aware of?

Yes. You’ll move on to the closing process once you’ve successfully navigated the subject removal phase. 

This is the final step before officially becoming a homeowner. 

It’s important to understand the various financial aspects involved in this phase for a smooth and successful closing.

The Balance of the Purchase Price

After subtracting your initial deposit, the purchase price balance is the remaining amount you owe.

This is typically financed through a mortgage obtained from a lender.

The specific amount will depend on the price of the home and the down payment you’ve made.

Insurance Premiums

Insurance is a standard aspect of homeownership.

When obtaining a mortgage, your lender will typically require you to have home insurance. The insurance should be effective on the completion date or when the balance of funds is placed in trust.

Home insurance costs vary depending on the property’s value, location, and coverage options. It’s important to shop for insurance quotes and get adequate coverage for your new home.

Property Transfer Tax

Property transfer tax is a significant expense when purchasing a home in British Columbia. The amount is based on the property’s fair market value when the title is transferred. 

For most residential properties, the property transfer tax rate is calculated as follows:

1% on the first $200,000; 2% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $200,000 and up to and including $2,000,000; 3% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $2,000,000.

If the property is residential, an additional 2% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $3,000,000

Depending on the price, first-time homebuyers may be eligible for exemptions or partial exemptions from property transfer tax. Understanding the specific rules and eligibility criteria to take advantage of these savings is important.

Government Registration Fees:

Government registration fees are an important consideration when buying a home in British Columbia. These fees are associated with registering the property title and other related documents. Understanding the purpose and factors influencing these fees will help you navigate the closing process smoothly.

Decoding Government Registration Fees

Government registration fees are charged for registering various documents related to the property purchase, including the transfer of property title, the mortgage, and other related documents. These fees are sent to the Land Title Office and part of closing.

The specific amount of government registration fees will depend on the value of the property and the type of documents being registered. It’s important to ask about these fees when discussing the closing process with your lawyer or notary to make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of all the costs involved.

Factors influencing the cost of government registration fees may include:

  • The purchase price of the property

  • The type and number of documents being registered

  • Any applicable exemptions or reductions

It’s important to note that government registration fees are subject to change and may vary based on the specific circumstances of your transaction. Your lawyer or notary will provide you with an accurate breakdown of these fees during the closing process.

You Closed, Now What? Moving Fees Checklist

Congratulations! You’re now a proud homeowner with a closing date. But the fees don’t end with the closing process. 

There are several post-closing financial responsibilities that you need to be prepared for. 

Here’s a checklist of other items you may encounter:

Moving Expenses

Moving costs can vary depending on the distance and the size of your required move.

It’s important to factor in costs such as hiring professional movers, renting a moving truck, packing supplies, and any temporary storage you may need. 

On average, you can expect to spend around $1,000 or more on moving.

New Locks

For security purposes, changing the locks on your new home after your real estate transaction is advisable. The cost of new locks will vary depending on the number of doors and the type of locks you choose. 

Consider budgeting around $100-$400 for new locks.

Household Goods

You may need to purchase new furniture, appliances, or other household goods to make your new home comfortable and functional. The cost of these items can vary greatly depending on your needs and preferences. 

Creating a budget and prioritizing your purchases based on your immediate needs is a good idea.

Utility Connection Charges

Connecting utilities to your new home may require upfront fees. 

These charges can include setup fees, deposits, and connection fees for electricity, gas, water, internet, and cable. It’s important to contact the utility providers in advance to understand the costs involved and make sure you have a smooth transition.

Redecorating and Renovating Costs

If you plan to redecorate or renovate your new home, definitely budget for these. The costs can add up quickly, whether you are doing painting, flooring, or a larger renovation project. Take a look at your priorities and allocate funds according to your budget.

Immediate Repair and Maintenance Costs

Once you move into your new home, you may discover minor repairs or maintenance tasks that need immediate attention. It’s a good idea to set aside some funds to address these issues promptly for the safety and functionality of your home.

Elevator or Move-in Deposit

The strata may require a move-in deposit or elevator reservation fee if you’re moving into a condo or apartment building with shared amenities. These fees are typically refundable but can range from $100 to $500. Be sure to check with your strata or building management for any applicable fees.

Preparing for these post-closing payments will help you manage your finances effectively for a smooth transition into your new home. It’s always a good idea to create a budget and plan to avoid any financial surprises.

After All That, Be Sure to Secure Your Investment With Home Title Insurance in BC

Home title insurance is a must for protecting your investment in a property.

It covers potential risks associated with the property title, such as undisclosed liens, land encroachment, survey errors, fraud, and more. 

Understanding the role of title insurance and its costs will help you make an informed decision when purchasing a home.

Importance of Title Insurance in Property Ownership

Title insurance protects you from potential financial losses related to defects in the property title. It ensures a clear and marketable title, free from encumbrances or legal issues.

Title insurance is typically obtained during the closing process with an insurance agent and is often included in the legal fees. 

The specific cost of title insurance can vary depending on the property’s value and the coverage options chosen. 

On average, title insurance costs around $225 for properties under $1,000,000.

Explanation of Coverage and Benefits Provided by Title Insurance

Title insurance provides coverage for various risks and offers several benefits to homeowners, including:

  1. Protection against title defects: Title insurance safeguards against potential title defects that may arise, such as undisclosed liens, errors in public records, or fraud.

  2. Legal expenses coverage: If a covered title defect leads to a legal dispute, title insurance can help cover legal fees incurred in defending your title.

  3. Losses due to title defects: If a covered title defect results in financial loss or reduction in property value, title insurance can provide compensation.

  4. Lender protection: Title insurance also protects your lender’s interest in the property. This coverage is typically required by the lender to ensure their investment is secure.

It’s important to discuss title insurance with your lawyer or notary to understand the specific coverage and benefits provided by the policy. They can guide you through the process and help you make an informed decision regarding title insurance for your property.

New Construction Home? Know the Tax Implications in BC

When purchasing a new construction home, there may be tax implications to consider. Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) apply to new builds or homes undergoing significant renovations. Understanding the calculation of these taxes, potential rebates, and exemptions will help you plan your finances effectively.

Understanding Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The GST is a federal tax levied on the supply of most goods and services in Canada.

GST is on the purchase price when purchasing a new construction home. The tax is 5% of the property’s fair market value. It’s important to note that this tax generally only applies to newly built homes, such as presale condos.

Calculation of Tax Based on the Purchase Price

To calculate the GST payable on a new construction home, multiply the purchase price by the applicable tax rate (5%). For example, if the home’s purchase price is $500,000, the GST payable would be $25,000.

Rebates and Exemptions for New Construction Homes

GST offers potential rebates and exemptions for new construction homes. The most significant rebate is the GST new home rebate, equivalent to 36% of the 5% GST paid on new homes priced up to $350,000. A partial rebate may also be available for new homes priced between $350,000 and $450,000.

Certain criteria must be met to qualify for these rebates, including the property used as the primary residence. It’s important to consult with your lawyer or notary to understand these rebates’ specific rules and eligibility criteria.

Bonus Knowledge: Top Considerations for Special Buyer Scenarios

Every homebuyer’s situation is unique, and specific considerations and exemptions may be available based on your circumstances. This section will explore some tailored considerations for special buyer scenarios.

Special Considerations for First-Time Homebuyers: First-time homebuyers may be eligible for various exemptions and refunds to help reduce the overall home cost. The most significant exemption is the first-time homebuyer property transfer tax exemption. This exemption can save buyers purchasing under the $835,000 mark. It’s important to note that this exemption is a one-time opportunity.

There are also partial exemptions available for purchase prices between $835,000 and $860,000. Above $860,000, the exemption is no longer applicable. Understanding the specific rules and eligibility criteria to take advantage of these savings is smart.

Specifics for Foreign Buyers and Potential Additional Taxes: there may be additional taxes and regulations to consider for foreign buyers. In BC, an additional property transfer tax is charged if the title is transferred to a foreign entity.

Foreign buyer taxes apply to purchases in the following regions:

  • Capital Regional District

  • Fraser Valley Regional District

  • Metro Vancouver Regional District

  • Regional District of Central Okanagan

  • Regional District of Nanaimo

It’s important to stay informed about any changes in regulations or taxes that may affect foreign buyers. Consulting with a knowledgeable realtor or lawyer will help you understand the specific requirements and navigate the process successfully.

Final Thoughts on How Much Are Legal Fees In British Columbia 

Buying a home in British Columbia involves various expenses and legal considerations. Understanding the true cost of buying a home, including legal fees, closing costs, and post-closing expenses, is important to budget effectively and work through for a successful purchase. 

Following the information and tips in this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the home-buying process and make informed decisions. 

Remember to consult with professionals, such as lawyers, notaries, and realtors, to get personalized advice and guidance tailored to your situation. 

With proper planning and preparation, you’ll be on your way to achieving your dream of homeownership in British Columbia.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fees When Buying a House

What are typical legal fees when buying a house?

Buyers often inquire about the average or typical lawyer fees of purchasing a home. This includes legal representation for tasks such as contract review, title searches, and overall conveyancing.

What factors can influence real estate lawyers fees when buying a house?

Many want to understand the variables that can impact real estate lawyer fees when purchasing a property. This might include the complexity of the transaction, the lawyer’s experience, the location of the property, and any additional services required, such as dealing with liens or encumbrances.

Are there any hidden real estate closing costs or additional expenses beyond the lawyer fees when buying a house?

Prospective homebuyers commonly want to know if there are any unforeseen expenses beyond the standard real estate lawyer fees. This could involve disbursements, land transfer taxes, title insurance, or any other incidental costs associated with the legal aspects of acquiring a property.

Author picture
Kim Lee (Vancouver Realtor)

As a Vancouver realtor, Kim Lee combines her love for people with her passion for real estate to provide guidance throughout the process and to building lasting relationships.