Who pays for what at the notary’s?
Published on September 17, 2019
If you’re getting ready to go to the notary’s office, you are in the final stage of your real estate transaction. But who will have to pay the notary’s invoice? Whether you’re about to buy or sell a property, it’s better to be well-informed to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Here are a few things to remember about real estate transactions in Quebec.
- Buying or selling a home: The notary's role
- Choosing the notary
- Factoring in the notary fees during a real estate transaction
- How much are notary services in Quebec
- A real estate transaction without complications
In Quebec, whether the property sale is taking place with or without a real estate broker, the transaction must go through a notary. These legal professionals, whose practice is regulated by the Chambre des notaires du Québec (CNQ), make sure the process goes smoothly.
As jurists, notaries have the expertise needed to review the property title and surveyor’s certificate (also known as certificate of localisation), prepare the new mortgage, draft the deed of sale and record the transaction in the land register.
In short, the In short, the notary’s role is to protect both parties—the buyer and the seller—to prevent irregularities and costly errors. The notary’s counsel and painstaking work might also save you a lot of worry!
“As a rule, the buyer gets to choose the notary, who then becomes the notary for the transaction in an impartial manner,” explained Elena-Maria Bejan, a notary at DuProprio. “The notary then makes sure that the interests of all parties involved are respected.”
However, this arrangement can differ if the Offer to Purchase so specifies. For instance, the seller could have included a condition that their own notary would handle the transaction. In such a case, the signed contract must be complied with.
Since the notary is working for both parties, the costs are shared. To understand how the notary fees, transaction costs, and disbursements are assigned to the buyer and seller, it’s important to know what the notary does for each party.
Generally, the buyer has a steeper bill to pay than the seller. The buyer pays the notary’s costs and fees for the following:
- Title review
- Analysis of the surveyor’s certificate
- File opening, closing and storage
- Copies of the deed of sale for all parties
- Adjustment and apportionment preparation (municipal and school taxes, rent, condo fees, etc.)
The seller also has costs and fees to cover, for instance if they need a title correction or mortgage discharge, but also for the following:
- Issuing of cheques:
- For surveyor’s fees (if the seller hasn’t already paid for the new surveyor’s certificate)
- To pay any arrears in municipal or school taxes, and where applicable, for co-ownership (condo) fees
- That are requested by the seller, other than the cheque relating to the balance to the seller
- The management fees from the account in trust for the cheques issued by the notary
- Depositing the seller’s cheque at the financial institution, the electronic transfer or certification of the cheque if required by the seller
- Any other fair and reasonable fees established by the acting notary for the needs of the real estate transaction
When the deed of sale isn’t signed in just one appointment, this may result in additional fees. In these cases, the fees will be payable by the party who made the request and benefits from it.
In closing, you should be aware that there is nothing preventing the buyer and the seller from agreeing on a different way of sharing the costs involved in the transaction.
It can sometimes be difficult to estimate how much the notary’s invoice will be for a real estate transaction because there are no set fees dictated by the CNQ. However, their fees are regulated by the Code of Ethics of Notaries:
“ …professional fees must be fair and reasonable according to certain criteria, including the time and effort devoted to the file, its complexity, and the notary’s experience and expertise.”
According to the Association professionnelle des notaires du Québec (APNQ), a minimum of $1,500 in fees should be anticipated in 2022 for a basic transaction, for instance a single-family home selling for $200,000. Additionally, the transaction fees are generally around $400 or $500.
As APNQ president François Bibeau puts it, “a real estate transaction is pricey.” He recommends always checking what’s included in the price. The amounts that the buyer and the seller will have to pay depend on a number of factors, including where the transaction takes place and how complex the matter is.
Before the notary starts working, you will have to sign a fee agreement or a professional contract, which will include details on the services to be rendered and the associated fees. The notary is duty-bound to advise clients of the approximate cost of their request and then provide a detailed invoice. If any unexpected costs or changes come up, they must also advise the clients.
To more precisely assess how much the fees will be to buy or sell your home, we recommend contacting your notary directly.
If the notary’s invoice seems too high or if you disagree with some items listed, you can always contact the CNQ’s fee mediation service to contest the items you feel aren’t justified.
However, the CNQ recommends that, before you submit a fee mediation request (a free service), you speak to your notary to get clarification and try to reach an agreement.
Always keep in mind that the notary handling your real estate transaction is acting on behalf of both parties, regardless of who made the selection. You can rest assured that their work cannot advantage the buyer or the seller. Thus, both parties must pay their fair share according to the verifications done by the notary.
People often forget that the notary’s role is a preventive one in any sale or purchase of a home. Their professional advice and the verifications they carry out make it possible for the transaction to go ahead with peace of mind.
At DuProprio, our team of notaries is waiting for your call to answer questions about offers to purchase and other legal documents, without any limit on the number of calls.*
The last meeting with the notary finalizes the deed of sale between buyer and seller. Generally, this is when house keys officially change hands, and the real estate transaction is successfully concluded.
To see how DuProprio can guide you through the steps of putting your home on the market without a hitch anywhere in Quebec, call us at 1-866-387-7677 to learn more about our services. Or, watch our webinar.