Real Estate Transactions and the Law with Graham Barr

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Real Estate Transactions and the Law with Graham Barr

Joining us today is Graham Barr, a lawyer with Barr LLP in Edmonton. Today we’re going to be talking all about the law as it relates to real estate transactions.

[0:30] Tell me what your firm does when it comes to real estate transactions.

  • Since 2015, we decided to focus on real estate. Our hearts lie with residential homes.

[0:54] Why do you need a lawyer when you’re buying or selling a home?

  • We still do contracts by signature, necessitating contracts over handshakes between people.
  • The banks prefer a lawyer to be a part of the transaction to reduce liability.

[02:23] What a lot of people don’t realize is that when you’re buying a home, the lawyer represents the buyer and the seller. Tell us more about that.

  • Purchasers often don’t realize that when they’re visiting their mortgage broker, part of the process involves hiring a lawyer for the bank and for them.

[03:20] What does a lawyer typically cost these days for a real estate transaction?

  • We’re able to find efficiencies to keep our legal fees static.
  • A traditional purchase typically costs about $850.

[04:53] If we look at today’s market, interest rates have gone up dramatically. Have you seen an impact in deals going through as a result?

  • It’s pretty rare. When you create your original contract, it’s the perfect opportunity to have it reviewed in advance to look specifically at the conditions.
  • If you’re not able to obtain the finance necessary to close, you should never be removing your condition of finance.

[7:30] What are some of the issues people run into with condominiums?

  • There are certain documents as set out by the corporation that they must have on hand for both owners and prospective purchasers.
  • A lot of people don’t realize that when they are buying a condo, they are buying into a business. They are buying shares of a corporation in Alberta.

[10:36] Give us the 411 on title insurance—why lenders want it and why buyers should get it.

  • Alberta has a unique land title system. It’s a very transparent title system.
  • If it’s your land, that legal description has to reflect all of the applicable registrations.

[15:00] Why else would lenders want title insurance?

  • For security. Lenders want to be first on title and first in line, so they obtain priority.
  • My recommendation to almost every buyer is to have a title insurance policy.

[18:33] Are you seeing any trends right now in residential real estate in Edmonton?

  • There are certain segments that seem to move faster than others.
  • Transactions between $300,000-$500,000 make up over 80% of our work right now.

[19:10] One thing I’m seeing is a buyout from one spouse to another. Are you seeing this?

  • A lot of couples have multiple properties. There’s a lot of restriction in the rental market.
  • Stresses are taking their toll, leading to marital breakdown and thus more purchases.

[20:45] How should people approach buying a place together when they’re not married?

  • We are doing away with the term common law—what we have now are adult interdependent partnerships.
  • Come to an agreement before you make the purchase.

[25:23] What happens if one person buys and the other person’s significant other is not on title?

  • The moment you decide to cohabitate with someone, create an agreement on paper.

[26:19] Wife wants to refinance, husband is advised to get independent legal advice. What’s that about?

  • If either spouse has lived in the property since marriage, the other spouse must consent to the transaction.

[29:44] What are some of the crazy scenarios you’ve found yourself in within real estate law?

  • What happens if the home burns down while you’re waiting for key release? I’ve had that happen three times in my 15-year career.
  • The deal is unwound, and the purchaser is released of their obligations.

[32:48] What are some of the more day-to-day issues that could cause problems?

  • When purchasers take possession and the home isn’t in the same condition as when they last saw it.
  • There are certain things you will want to turn around and tell your lawyers about right away.

[39:04] A lot of builders tell buyers to use their lawyer. What’s your thought on that?

  • I started my career working for a law firm that represented most of the large home builders in the city.
  • At the time you go to your builder and they provide you with their contract, do not sign it without legal advice. Their contracts are biased in favour of the builder.
  • Once you’ve signed the contract, there’s no reason you shouldn’t work with their lawyer for registration needs.

[20:45] In Alberta, a transaction is supposed to close at 12 PM. Lenders don’t necessarily follow this. What kind of problems does this cause for the buyer and seller?

  • Late closing doesn’t mean days, it means hours.
  • If your lender isn’t an Alberta lender, there’s a good chance your funds are coming from a Toronto office. Your lawyer can ask for a delay on the same calendar day.

[46:30] Inevitably, people are closing on a Friday. It’s a disaster, right? Multiple days of delayed interest.

  • Where we know it is the fault of the bank, we’ve encouraged clients to reach out to their bank, explain the situation, and ask for compensation.

[47:54] The other issue with late lenders is not having your keys by the time the movers arrive.

  • Part of our firm’s ethos is you should always see and talk to a lawyer. You’re never going to close at noon. It’s our job to set the expectations for a transaction.
  • Do not book third party companies for the day of closing.

[49:40] One potential solution for money showing up late is tenancy at will. Tell me about that.

  • When a purchaser has their downpayment, has their cash to close, has signed their documents, and is otherwise ready to close, if their lender or the selling side is not yet ready, they can still ask to move into the property.

[51:50] How should you go about choosing a lawyer?

  • The Canadian Bar Association is a membership of all lawyers across Canada. It’s a database of real estate lawyers I can reach out to and ask if they’ll be a lawyer.
  • Look for online reputation. Reviews are a great way of deciding who you should trust.


Contact Graham:

Barr LLP



Mortgage Myth 4

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Mortgage Myth 4

This is the fourth in our mortgage myths series. Elissa Fesyk is asking Jason about the myths surrounding banks and brokers.

If you have been with a bank for a long time and have a great relationship with them, do you need a broker? It depends. From Jason’s perspective, a client should benefit from expanded options.

Jason does work with banks as well; it just depends on what the best option for the client is. There are any number of circumstances that could impact the decision of your borrowing, and having options is always going to be beneficial.

If the best deal for you is at your bank, Jason will place you there. It doesn’t always make a difference, but sometimes the relationship can benefit you. However, they aren’t beholden to you, unlike brokers who want to get you the best deal.

Real Estate Should Be Fun! with Lauren Hunt

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Real Estate Should Be Fun! with Lauren Hunt

Joining us today is Lauren Hunt with The Foundry Real Estate Company. We’re going to hear from her about why real estate should be fun for everyone.

[0:25] It’s been a hot start to 2022 for real estate. What have you been seeing?

  • There are not enough houses and too many people trying to buy the same kind of house.
  • Lots of multiples and unhappy buyers.

[01:00] Why do you think it’s such a seller’s market right now?

  • It’s due to people relocating. Pricing in Edmonton is good right now.

[02:41] How did you get into real estate?

  • I worked in the design and construction sales industry for over 10 years.
  • It just seemed like a natural fit over time.

[03:43] How many houses do you think you went out to during that time?

  • Close to 5000 with the number of measures I would do.

[04:20] How does flooring sales tie into being a successful realtor?

  • I love homes and interiors. I’ve always loved design and I would watch reality television shows about design and real estate as a child.

[05:28] Is there a specific area or type of client you are focusing on right now?

  • I don’t specialize in a particular area; I want to just focus on the clients that are skeptical about real estate.

[05:53] What do you mean by skeptical?

  • My mission is to change peoples’ perception of the value of realtors. It should be an enjoyable and valuable process for both parties.

[06:35] Why do you think people undervalue realtors?

  • Due to online information availability, people think they know the ins and outs.
  • Realtors are a valuable source of education for buyers and sellers.

[07:58] You also have a background in psychology. How do all these things tie together?

  • It helps with the sales approach. I’m more concerned about the end result than the sale. Not everyone wants the same approach or outcome.

[10:05] Do you have any examples of where you’ve had to use your psychology skills?

  • When you are dealing with families or couples it can be tough. It’s about acting ethically at all times and staying true to the client’s best interests.

[13:00] When did you know it was time to switch to real estate?

  • It’s scary to leave a good career. I was at work and I realized I could just go to IKEA. I realized I had time to take care of myself as well.

[15:35] What are people coming from out of province looking for?

  • Single-family homes and rentals.

[17:56] How do you counsel your clients when it comes to today’s market?

  • If they aren’t in a position to pull the trigger tomorrow, I tell them that. There’s no waiting.
  • There’s also an alarming number of foreclosures right now in unusual areas.

[22:08] How do you handle sight unseen sales?

  • Lots of Facetime walkthroughs.

[23:45] What’s been your most frustrating day?

  • Dealing with a misleading posting and another agent.

[30:45] What advice would you give a family member on choosing a realtor?

  • Ask questions. Trust your instincts. It is a mutual relationship, and it needs trust.


Contact Lauren:

The Foundry Real Estate Company



Mortgage Myth 3

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Mortgage Myth 3

Elissa Fesyk is back to test Jason in our third episode of the mortgage myths series. This time, the myth is that the mortgage broker is on the lenders side.

From Jason’s perspective, he’s in it for the clients, not the lender. His job is to save you money and guide you through the process. Lender relationships are incredibly important, and size matters in the real estate world. There needs to be trust on both sides.

Sometimes the lender and broker are the same, making the client relationship a little different. While it isn’t a whole lot different, there isn’t the same number of fiduciary duties. It may conjure the image of hustling, but that isn’t a bad thing.

Occasionally, lenders will offer incentives to mortgage brokers. Promotional compensation is possible if they are looking for a greater market share, but for Jason, the client relationship is king.

Current Edmonton Real Estate Market with Shaun Cunningham

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Current Edmonton Real Estate Market with Shaun Cunningham

Our guest today is Shaun Cunningham, a realtor with the central branch of RE/MAX in Edmonton. Shaun is here to discuss the current market issues and how he initially got into real estate.

[0:18] What got you into real estate?

  • I was in the auto industry for 12 years and just transitioned from cars to houses. It was an easy move.

[0:30] Are there any skills from the auto industry that have helped you in real estate?

  • Whether you are selling a car or a house the end goal is the same: To help the client accomplish their goal and help them get it done.

[0:50] Is there an area of the city that you focus on?

  • Most realtors focus on where they live, so I focus on Northeast Edmonton. Of course, we can go anywhere; I do business all over.

[01:23] I’ve heard that we are at a record low of inventory right now.

  • What’s happening is a perfect storm because sellers don’t want to list when it’s 30 below outside, and with interest rates going up in November, people pre-approved before that are running out of time to find something so there are a lot of buyers looking to buy.

[02:55] Do you think we are heading towards a more balanced market?

  • I think it will stay a seller’s market for the next few months, depending on interest rates.

[03:38] How do you think this pandemic spring will compare to the 2 previous ones?

  • It depends on how many people are going back to the office. Many are working from home permanently and want more space, etc.

[04:52] What else are you seeing in the market?

  • $300,000-$400,000 was the the hot price point, but due to low inventory this has changed now to $400,000-$500,000.

[05:50] Are you seeing a lot of people moving here from out of the province?

  • With the prices so high in Ontario and B.C. there is a lot of interest from people moving here from those provinces.

[07:06] What prompted the move to real estate?

  • I had plateaued in the auto industry, and there is no better feeling than giving someone the keys to their house.

[08:24] What are the major stressors you come across?

  • Going through the process with clients, every step has the potential to go wrong. You need great people like home inspectors and lawyers to help you reduce the stress for everyone.

[09:34] What was your most frustrating day?

  • A day of possession, the clients and I pulled up to their new home and the entire driveway was filled with garbage.

[13:05] What’s the best real estate advice you’ve ever received?

  • Focus on the client.

[15:07] What do sellers need to be aware of?

  • Getting property reports done on time, residential measurement standards, and material latent defects.
  • It’s also essential to get sewer lines checked. They can be a costly future problem.

[20:25] How do you manage buyer expectations?

  • Communication is key in every transaction, making sure they are well informed throughout the process.

[24:32] What do you say when clients want to get aggressive and drop conditions?

  • I give them all the information and explain what could happen if you don’t do the necessary things.

[25:20] Are you expecting a turnaround on condos?

  • We need to improve buyer confidence to change it.


Contact Shaun:

RE/MAX Real Estate – Central Branch

#200, 10835-124 Street,

Edmonton, AB T5M 0H4

Cell – 780.265.0165

Office – 780.488.4000

Email –

Website –


Mortgage Myth 2

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Mortgage Myth 2

Welcome to the second episode in our mortgage myths series. Elissa Fesyk once again quizzes Jason Scott, and this time the subject is how mortgage brokers make a living doing what they do.

When Jason gets paid, 99% of the time it is by the lender, not the client. Why do lenders want to work with brokers? Brokers are outsourced lead generators for them; they don’t have to pay salary or benefits. In exchange, they pay based on size and length of mortgage.

What matters to Jason is getting the client approved in a smooth and painless way. From a client’s perspective, Jason’s best interest is to make a great situation for them to keep building his own business. Sadly, there are also shady mortgage brokers out there. Look out for interest rates and do your research before you commit. If in doubt, look to the Real Estate Council of Alberta for advice.

Mortgage Myth 1

I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Mortgage Myth 1

Today’s episode is the first in a short series about busting mortgage myths. Jason is joined by Alyssa Fessick who is turning the tables and asking the questions to Jason.

Who needs a mortgage broker? Is it just people with bad credit that could benefit from a broker’s expertise? Jason says no. Historically, it was more likely for clients to have credit issues, but these days Jason sees a lot more AAA clients. In Jason’s world, an AAA client is someone who can get qualified for lending anywhere.

The question then becomes, where is right for you to borrow? There is more choice and opportunity, and brokers can find you the best fit in a lender. It isn’t an all-or-nothing game and each situation is unique. Jason’s job is to smooth out the wrinkles in the transaction and help to build a relationship.

Buying a New Home vs Buying Resale

I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
Buying a New Home vs Buying Resale

Our guest today is Michael Leoppky with Maxwell Devonshire Realty. He is joining us to discuss what you need to know about buying a brand-new home versus buying resale.

[0:20] Tell me about yourself.

  • I became a licensed agent a little over 2 years ago. Before that, I worked in the new home building world for over 11 years.

[0:58] What are the differences between being a realtor and being a builder salesperson?

  • The licensing. There’s a fair amount of education and accountability involved.
  • There are legal responsibilities to my clients, compared to the entirely different area of builder representative. There was a lot less black and white there.

[02:21] What led to your career change?

  • The main appeal was having that black and white aspect of realty.
  • Committing to people’s best interest really appealed to me. In the building world, you were always forced to pick a side.

[03:39] What are the advantages of buying new?

  • Typically, you are getting new technology. Everything is built to today’s standards and codes, so you don’t have to worry about older build issues.
  • Building new, you have the option to personalize that home.

[05:11] What are the disadvantages of buying new?

  • While it’s a positive investment, there will be a lag before seeing a return.
  • It’s important to look at how long you are planning on staying in the property because of investment appreciation.

[08:09] Obviously, with resale, there’s risk of extra costs like renovations.

  • There are all kinds of unknown risks with resale but we take action to mitigate those risks.

[08:33] When meeting with a new client, how do you help them decide which path to take?

  • I start with a discovery meeting where I ask a lot of questions and get down into the why and where of moving. Everything builds a picture of what fits with clients’ needs and wants.

[09:50] Why would a buyer opting for a new home want to work with an agent?

  • As an agent, I have a legal responsibility to work in your best interests.
  • When you walk into a show home, there’s no obligation to disclose. There is no confidentiality.

[12:49] If I make an offer on a place, who has the power to say yes or no?

  • The sales manager decides.

[14:50] As a realtor, your background makes you a valuable resource for clients.

  • It certainly helps ascertaining reasonable prices. When you get a realtor and salesperson working together that care about the client, that is the perfect situation.

[17:37] If I am using a realtor, am I going to end up paying more?

  • No.

[21:56] What should buyers be aware of when looking at builders and neighborhoods?

  • There is a lot involved to consider. It’s no different than looking at listings. What’s important to you, what are your values?

[27:19] What are some of the biggest misconceptions about new builds?

  • That everything is made cheap. Builders don’t make huge margins.
  • My default response to ‘they don’t build them like they used to’ is thank goodness.

[30:49] Many contracts say there are no unauthorized site visits. Why is that?

  • Safety is obviously the biggest reason. You also have to consider that they have a process.

[33:00] Should you have a subject to inspection clause?

  • It depends on the builder, but it’s a good question to keep in mind. Remember that there is warranty insurance.


Contact Michael:

Michael Leoppky

Associate | Maxwell Devonshire Realty




How Title Insurance Protects Buyers

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
How Title Insurance Protects Buyers

This interview is for informational purposes only and listeners should check the specific wording of the coverages in their title insurance policy.

Our guest today is Erin Crocker B.A., LL.B, M.B.A. Erin is a lawyer and business development manager with Stewart Title. She joins us to discuss what title insurance is and how it can protect buyers.

[0:25] What does Stewart Title do and what is your role in the company?

  • Stewart covers residential and commercial title insurance.
  • I worked in private practice covering residential real estate and conveyance as well as commercial development.

[1:10] What is title insurance?

  • A policy that protects from losses due to specific risks that could adversely affect the interest in real estate.

[1:55] If someone buys a house, what can go wrong that requires title insurance?

  • Commonly it is inability to obtain complete or updated RPRs.
  • Title insurance covers what would be disclosed in those surveys.

[3:06] If you purchase a property and the seller can’t provide an updated RPR, who purchases the Title Insurance?

  • The seller may offer to cover the costs, but it is dependent on the deal structure.

[3:40] Can you give us an example of how Stewart Title has helped someone using Title Insurance?

  • If a buyer doesn’t receive an RPR and down the road finds the property they thought was part of their lot is actually city owned, they could face a loss on the property. Title insurance can compensate for that loss.

[4:36] How much compensation could they receive?

  • It varies case by case and how the issues are resolved, whether it’s negotiating use of property with the city or outright buying it.

[5:25] Is title insurance applicable to condos?

  • Yes, the same survey coverage is included.
  • It covers issues such as unit encroachment on common areas or vice versa and inaccuracies in the Estoppel Certificate.

[8:40] How is Title Insurance helping people during COVID?

  • If the land title office is closed while you are purchasing, there is coverage for a registration gap to cover the time between submitting and processing documents.
  • If a lien is placed against the title in the time between processing, you are covered for that.

[10:56] How else is title insurance being utilized during the pandemic?

  • Legislation changes now allow for documentation to be signed digitally.
  • If property tax documentation is missing, you are covered for outstanding debts against the seller.

[13:44] What is the difference between the title insurance required by lender and owner insurance?

  • The lender policy protects and pays out to the lender, and the owner policy serves the owner.

[14:25] What is the typical cost for a policy?

  • $125 for a lender policy and $50 for owners.

[15:40] Does the price increase with property value?

  • It increases nominally for properties over $500,000.
  • There is no price difference between acreage and city-based policies.

[17:17] If it was identity theft and a mortgage was bought under your name, is that covered?

  • There was a case of a father and son who had the same name. The son sold the property to a friend and they made off with the mortgage proceeds.
  • The father was able to recoup losses through the title insurance.

[20:58] Can you give examples of people thinking they were covered but weren’t?

  • The number one reason claims are denied is that no homeowner policy was purchased.
  • Secondly, risks that are created by or known to the buyer but not disclosed are not covered.

[23:25] If someone adds to their property without acquiring the proper permits then sells 30 years down the line, are the buyers covered?

  • Yes, there is a provision for permits.
  • Claims can only be made if a loss has occurred.

Contact Erin Crocker:


How COVID-19 Has Impacted Mortgages

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I Love Edmonton Real Estate
I Love Edmonton Real Estate
How COVID-19 Has Impacted Mortgages

Our guests today are Edward Kim and Imran Thaver from Genworth Canada. Genworth provides mortgage default insurance to Canadian residential mortgage lenders. They join us to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and policy changes on their business.

[0:30] What do you do at Genworth?

  • We help Canadians purchase their primary residence with less than 20% down payment.

[2:03] Did the CMHC policy changes at the beginning of July affect Genworth at all?

  • We review policies twice a year. Our underwriting is currently sufficient for the risk we see in the market.
  • We assess risk constantly.

[3:20] There were plans to revisit the stress test, have you heard anything regarding that process?

  • No.
  • We understand that it can be a challenge for people entering the market and staying in homes for long periods of time, and we hope that once things normalize that it will be re-visited.

[4:47] The CHMC ratio tightening has effectively increased the stress test without actually increasing the stress rates. Do you have any thoughts on that?

  • We believe those individuals that are looking purchase, have the income, have credit and meet our criteria should be treated the same as before.

[5:53] What kind of market activity are you seeing?

  • A lot of people trying to get in.
  • With interest rates it is also a great opportunity. Lockdown has allowed some people to save money and get a down payment together.

[7:53] What are you seeing from a price point perspective?

  • A lot of activity in the first-time buyer range of under 400k.
  • We are seeing condos pressured due to supply.

[10:25] What do you see as the potential long-term impacts of oil prices on the market?

  • It’s definitely something we monitor along with unemployment rates. We are hoping to just see some consistency.

[11:27] Do you have concerns about the delinquency rates rising?

  • It’s too early to tell. The industry has all worked together to make deferrals work.

[13:32] What happens if there is a second wave when the deferrals end in fall?

  • Hopefully the staggered approach to re-opening keeps everyone healthy. We are working to ensure our customers are looked after.

[14:23] What kind of risk plans do you have in place?

  • We have strong underwriting policies and we are looking at properties with a fine-tooth comb.
  • We want to ensure individuals can be in the right home long term.

[17:44] Where do you think we will be a year from now in regards to renewals and transfers?

  • As long as our customers are current on their payments, we have no issue with people moving or switching.

[18:34] What are your predictions for the market in the next few years?

  • The current driver is that niche market, but it will be interesting to see what happens with the downward pressure on condos and also with the higher end homes as inventory increases.

[20:50] As insurers, what keeps you up at night?

  • Ensuring our customers are happy and that our lenders and brokers know we are here to support them.

[21:29] Have you seen a shift in where deals are being generated?

  • Yes, more lenders are focusing on mortgage specialists or broker business.

[23:20] Have you seen a surge in transactions?

  • There has been a definite uptick since May.

[23:45] Do you have any final thoughts?

  • We welcome the opportunity to spend time with the broker network. We have dedicated broker strategies and we want to ensure everything we do is for the end user.

Contact Edward Kim at 780-982-1998 or

Contact Imran Thaver at 780-263-6250 or