Real Estate

Urgent - Lawyer Fees - Are these crazy amounts?

  • Last Updated:
  • May 12th, 2021 8:42 pm
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2012
416 posts
280 upvotes
Toronto

Urgent - Lawyer Fees - Are these crazy amounts?

Hi, I'm in the process of closing a home and I was given these fees to pay. It was a lot higher than I expected. Do these look normal?

$1,432.00 Statement of Accountant
$329.00 Title Search and Write of Execution search
$512.20 Title Insurance and processing fees
$150.00 Tax Certificate
$169.50 First Time Home Buyer Application
$175.15 Courier, hotocopies and disbursement
$60.00 Bank Charge
$77.62 Transfer Registration Fee
$77.62 Registration Fee

$2,983.09 Total
23 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
9223 posts
2249 upvotes
CoastalWaves wrote: It's just the general fee for the lawyer's services. I'm not sure why the First time home buyer application fee is not part of it.
If it's fees for the lawyers services in general than half of the other fees should be removed. Sounds like a bogus administration fee much like what new and used car dealers try to charge you. Get a quote somewhere else, sometimes the agent that you used might be able to help.
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Deal Fanatic
Aug 31, 2010
6689 posts
5224 upvotes
CoastalWaves wrote: Hi, I'm in the process of closing a home and I was given these fees to pay. It was a lot higher than I expected. Do these look normal?

$1,432.00 Statement of Accountant
$329.00 Title Search and Write of Execution search
$512.20 Title Insurance and processing fees
$150.00 Tax Certificate
$169.50 First Time Home Buyer Application
$175.15 Courier, hotocopies and disbursement
$60.00 Bank Charge
$77.62 Transfer Registration Fee
$77.62 Registration Fee

$2,983.09 Total
1 - Lawyer fee is high but not unusual.
2 - Search costs seem high. search is like $140-150 and exec cert is like ~120.
3 - Title insurance isn't their charge, you should get an invoice from FCT or whomever for this exact amount.
4 - never paid this, no idea what it is. Probably should be baked into the $1,400 you're paying.
5 - no idea why it's not included in the $1,400. Your base legal fee is usually higher as a FTHB for the application, but yours is already fairly high.
6 - you're getting fleeced on courier, photocopies, and disbursements. Should be sub-$100 I'd say.
7 - bank fee is high-ish but normal, wire fee. ~$50 is normal.
8 & 9 are normal, I think. Transfer and registration of mortgage. However, I've seen it baked into the legal fee (which you're already paying a premium for) and not a disbursement.

These fees shouldn't be a surprise, and are all things you should have inquired about before you got to this point of getting an SoA. Even if you wanted to change lawyers now you'd owe a nice bill to this lawyer anyways. Chalk it up as a life lesson.

Overall, it's a steep fee.. my last lawyer was around your base fee, including disbursements.
Last edited by hvc on May 11th, 2021 1:32 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Deal Addict
Jul 22, 2009
1885 posts
1424 upvotes
Brampton
Lawyers are qrooks if you did not ask before you let them do the work you are screwd now and have to pay.
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2012
416 posts
280 upvotes
Toronto
hvc wrote: 1 - Lawyer fee is high but not unusual.
2 - Search costs seem high. search is like $140-150 and exec cert is like ~120.
3 - Title insurance isn't their charge, you should get an invoice from FCT or whomever for this exact amount.
4 - never paid this, no idea what it is. Probably should be baked into the $1,400 you're paying.
5 - no idea why it's not included in the $1,400. Your base legal fee is usually higher as a FTHB for the application, but yours is already fairly high.
6 - you're getting fleeced on courier, photocopies, and disbursements. Should be sub-$100 I'd say.
7 - bank fee is high-ish but normal, wire fee. ~$50 is normal.
8 & 9 are normal, I think. Transfer and registration of mortgage. However, I've seen it baked into the legal fee (which you're already paying a premium for) and not a disbursement.

These fees shouldn't be a surprise, and are all things you should have inquired about before you got to this point of getting an SoA. Even if you wanted to change lawyers now you'd owe a nice bill to this lawyer anyways. Chalk it up as a life lesson.

Overall, it's a steep fee.. my last lawyer was around your base fee, including disbursements.
kopokipi wrote: Lawyers are qrooks if you did not ask before you let them do the work you are screwd now and have to pay.
I didn't sign anything though. Would I still be liable if I switched? I'm surprised they didn't have a contract signed before starting to do work.
Last edited by CoastalWaves on May 11th, 2021 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jr. Member
Jan 9, 2016
199 posts
162 upvotes
Oakville, ON
The first thing you do is talk about how much it will cost. Did you not do that?

$1,432.00 for Statement of Accountant seems expensive, the rest standard I guess.
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2012
416 posts
280 upvotes
Toronto
mb7057 wrote: The first thing you do is talk about how much it will cost. Did you not do that?

$1,432.00 for Statement of Accountant seems expensive, the rest standard I guess.
I did, they told me it would be about $1400 for lawyer fees.
Deal Addict
Jul 22, 2009
1885 posts
1424 upvotes
Brampton
CoastalWaves wrote: I did, they told me it would be about $1400 for lawyer fees.
Well they charged you $1432 in lawyers fees but I guess forgat to mention extras.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 2, 2008
1714 posts
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The Capital
Depending on your region, but that seems to be on the higher side.

On my first place I paid ~1950$, but that was thru an expensive law firm, and they had a few extra hours into my case due to shifty behaviors by the builder...
On my 2020 new build purchase fees was 1650$

Ottawa/Ontario
Jr. Member
Apr 25, 2017
177 posts
137 upvotes
You should have requested quotes that included all disbursements - otherwise it's not that helpful to see the breakdown. I've seen all-in quotes around around 1400-1800 plus HST i.e. everything you have above except title insurance.
Deal Addict
Jun 18, 2020
2628 posts
3149 upvotes
Remember to compare it to the Screw-A-Lawyer-And-They-Know-How-To-Make-You-Sorry Fee.

You signed nothing, but if they did the work...

You marked this urgent, which i'd guess is because time is of the essence.

Maybe bring it up and try to negotiate? Plead poor?

I myself don't know if these are high fees, but from what some replies have said, I'd lean to just paying if they started the work. Prob even if they didn't, just to keep things moving..
Deal Fanatic
Aug 31, 2010
6689 posts
5224 upvotes
CoastalWaves wrote: I didn't sign anything though. Would I still be liable if I switched? I'm surprised they didn't have a contract signed before starting to do work.
How far into the process are you? Are you closing soon? If so, just go through with this lawyer and chalk it up to knowing for next time - switching to a new lawyer may leave you on the hook for some/all of the incurred fees from the current lawyer and an "urgent" premium on the new lawyer. Plead ignorance, bring up that you thougth xyz would be included in the fee (FTHB app, etc., etc.,) and see what they can do.

It's a high fee, but you're in Toronto and paying an extra $1,000 in the grand scheme of things isn't catastrophic. I'd say it's "within range" but definitely on the high end for closing on a house. And, like I said $500 of your disbursements is FCT insurance which some folks may not have on their legal bill as it can be billed separately or factored into the SOA, so yours isn't that much higher - just make sure you get the paid invoice from FCT that should tie (to the penny) to your disbursement.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 4, 2009
7353 posts
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Ask him/her for a line by line explanation of fees. If you're still not clear about what they tell you (and you likely won't be) ask again until you are. They're working for you, it's their job to answer your questions.
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[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2012
416 posts
280 upvotes
Toronto
hvc wrote: How far into the process are you? Are you closing soon? If so, just go through with this lawyer and chalk it up to knowing for next time - switching to a new lawyer may leave you on the hook for some/all of the incurred fees from the current lawyer and an "urgent" premium on the new lawyer. Plead ignorance, bring up that you thougth xyz would be included in the fee (FTHB app, etc., etc.,) and see what they can do.

It's a high fee, but you're in Toronto and paying an extra $1,000 in the grand scheme of things isn't catastrophic. I'd say it's "within range" but definitely on the high end for closing on a house. And, like I said $500 of your disbursements is FCT insurance which some folks may not have on their legal bill as it can be billed separately or factored into the SOA, so yours isn't that much higher - just make sure you get the paid invoice from FCT that should tie (to the penny) to your disbursement.
Yes we're closing soon. Working with a real estate lawyer is so weird. Usually when you want a good or service, you're given a contract to sign which includes all final fees, and only when you sign are you liable for it and the product/service is delivered.

Working with a real estate lawyer is more like:
"yes let's work together to close on this house", then followed by "lawyer fee, disbursement fee, application fee, breathing air fee" and you're forced to pay that? Doesn't seem right to me. I never even agreed to paying any of those fees.
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
19072 posts
17400 upvotes
Tarrana & The Ri…
All that other stuff is the lawyer passing the cost to you. It’s not his charge. He charged you 1400 for his work. Little high. I get a decent deal from mine $1k.

People want a cheap lawyer and get screwed bigly for being cheap. Not worth getting a cheaply cheap lawyer.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 31, 2010
6689 posts
5224 upvotes
CoastalWaves wrote: Yes we're closing soon. Working with a real estate lawyer is so weird. Usually when you want a good or service, you're given a contract to sign which includes all final fees, and only when you sign are you liable for it and the product/service is delivered.

Working with a real estate lawyer is more like:
"yes let's work together to close on this house", then followed by "lawyer fee, disbursement fee, application fee, breathing air fee" and you're forced to pay that? Doesn't seem right to me. I never even agreed to paying any of those fees.
I think your lawyer could have been more forthcoming with you, especially as a first time buyer. Your lawyer costs $1,400 for his work, plus he passes along his expenses incurred (ie wire payments, etc) and fees he's paid on your behalf (registering title, etc.). That's just how lawyers bill - his fee is for his time/service only, plus the expenses he incurs to complete said work. Some may bill a flat fee plus small disbursements (ie copying bank fees, etc), others do a (usually) lower rate plus breakout more disbursements (like yours did) net net it would be the same just you don't see it line by line. Yours just happens to be expensive base rate is all.

I think up front rather than asking what they charge (which his answer was certainly "$1,400 plus disbursements"), you need to ask what they estimate disbursements at and for what, or what the total cost would be.
Jr. Member
Jul 10, 2020
165 posts
207 upvotes
always get quote upfront
should be under 1k
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Deal Addict
Jan 15, 2010
1508 posts
1835 upvotes
Toronto
Ask lawyer to provide invoices for all the disbursements.

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