Yes, lawyers can enrich their real estate practice by offering more services, such as listing services often performed by a listing real estate agent. Lawyers’ professional regulator, the Law Society of British Columbia, published a bulletin on the topic back in 2002. There are other lawyers in British Columbia that provide these more comprehensive real estate services.
We charge the same commission (although we call it a contingency fee) that real estate agents do, but that commission also covers your conveyance costs that a seller would normally pay to a lawyer or notary to complete the transaction.
A lawyer is also better able to provide legal advice regarding your property and any offers presented. In the normal process, sellers do not even engage a lawyer until they have entered into a fully binding contract (they only work with their listing real estate agent until the contract is fully binding). Sometimes the contract and/or title to the property have issues that were unforeseen by a real estate agent. Those unforeseen issues can complicate closing and expose the seller to liability; when the seller is already stuck in a binding contract, the law firm or notary doing the sale has limited tools and bargaining position to fix issues that arise. By hiring a law firm, issues can be better addressed proactively before the seller is stuck in a binding contract.
Our law firm also provides marketing and other services that a listing real estate agent would provide. We hire a professional photographer to better market your property. We connect the seller with and pay for services to list their property on the main listing platform used by real estate agents, as well as other mediums. We also purchase data to conduct reliable and accurate comparable analysis to assess the value of your property.
We charge the same rate that listing real estate agents charge, but complete your sale for no additional cost. The amount of the commission that we seek will depend on the type and value of the property. Contact us with details of your property to get a quote.
One area where we differ from the standard approach of real estate agents is how the commission is split between the professional acting for the buyer and the professional acting for the seller. Let’s take an example of a home that sells for $400,000 and the listing contract had a 7% commission on the first $100,000 and 3% commission on the balance of the price, which equates to a total commission of $16,000 (plus GST). The typical form of contract real estate agents use says that they will charge the total commission, but will split the commission if the buyer has a real estate agent. In our example, the listing agent would keep $8,000 of the commission for himself/herself, and the other $8,000 would be paid to the buyer’s agent. If the buyer does not have an agent, the listing agent keeps the entire $16,000. When a seller receives an offer from an unrepresented buyer, they can always negotiate a reduction in the listing agent’s commission (and often they may agree to a reduction), but the listing agent does not need to agree to a reduction. We think that it is more fair to only ever charge our “half” of the total commission, and in our example, we would only be paid $8,000 in either scenario. This has an added benefit of better attracting sophisticated buyers (that don’t feel the need to hire an agent), as those buyers can get a better deal on the same property since the seller would be more willing to agree to a reduced price that saves half of the commission costs.