No brilliance is required in law, just common sense and relatively clean fingernails. (John Mortimer)
It is commonly said that buying and selling a house is the biggest transaction that most of us will enter into. On top of that most purchases take place between complete strangers. Most of us wouldn’t trust a stranger to hold $10 for us, let alone hundreds of thousands of dollars, and so we turn to lawyers. In a property transaction lawyers do a number of things, we provide advice and experience. We explain what is happening, and what will happen next. But most importantly of all we provide certainty and (hopefully) common sense.
Lawyers answer the question how do I know I am going to get paid? Or, on the other side of the transaction, how do I know I will get the house I am buying? The answer is that your lawyer makes sure of it. Broadly that is all you need to know. It is our job to ensure that the transaction ends up with the right parties holding the cash and the house. Lawyers provide certainty.
For a property lawyer, it is not flashy or extravagant. We don’t make rousing speeches in court. We don’t persuade or argue or even debate. Our role is to be dull and careful. We make sure a transaction ends up as intended. The vendor gets paid, the purchaser gets a house. But there is also a third role. We also make sure the bank gets looked after. We provide certainty to the bank as well. For the bank we ensure that the loan documents are signed and that they get a mortgage over the house.
Many people will be surprised to learn that the person they consider “Their Lawyer” is actually acting for the bank as well. On almost all house purchases the purchaser’s lawyer is instructed by the bank to get the purchaser to sign loan documents and a mortgage. As part of this lawyers sign a certificate to the bank where we confirm that we have identified our client, our client has signed all the loan documents, purchased the land, granted a mortgage and been advised appropriately. In this both bank and buyer have the same interest in certainty. Both want to be sure that the cash and the title end up in the right hands. Put simply that’s what property lawyers do. Dull, dependable but hopefully with clean fingernails.
Obviously there are points when matters get more complicated. Some files take unexpected turns. The role of the lawyer remains the same. Advise the parties and help them move towards a certain and agreed outcome.
At Henderson Reeves Connell Rishworth we have years of dull, dependable experience. We are trusted by our clients and by the banks to get matters right. Common sense really.