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Two decades ago, it was relatively easy to buy, sell, or refinance real property in Canada. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore, owing mostly to the global financial crisis, the stagnation on the real estate markets in North America and, most of all, to the rising housing bubble fears in the country. Real estate agents and brokers, mortgage brokers and lenders, notaries – these are only a few of the rings on the chain you have to follow so as to complete the long and rather complex process of buying or selling a piece of property. When it comes to real estate deals, the widely accepted rule is that you should leave the professionals navigating you through the process. At the same time, these professionals often charge serious fees and commissions, and it is not a wonder that many individuals are now seeking to buy real estate directly from the owner or constructor, skipping the greater part of the intermediaries above. On the other hand, as the real estate trading system in Canada has become more complicated, it is far more exposed to fraudulent practices.

Here, you will find a step-by-step guide with the steps to take in order to protect yourself against Ostap Benders and scheming Machiavellis, guised as trustworthy real estate brokers.

Step One: Find a Real Estate Lawyer

When you go to war, you have to first build your lines of defence. In this case, you should find a good and, most important, loyal real estate lawyer to represent you throughout the home-buying process. What makes this person so important is the fact that it is his or her job to ensure that nobody is trying to trick you out of your hard-earned money. One last thing, it is unwise to haggle about the fee of your real estate lawyer, because he or she can actually save you thousands of dollars.

Step Two: Look for Fraud Signs

With the home-buying chain being rather long, if a person A recommends person B as an outstanding expert who will best serve you, you should tell your lawyer to check this person out before getting in touch with him. If, for example, a real estate broker tells you that he always works with this or that particular mortgage lender, you have all grounds to become suspicious of a real estate fraud. Remember that it is your own right to choose a mortgage lender through which to finance the deal.

Step Three: Caution on Signing Documents

Remember that you must not sign any document until your lawyer has first examined it for hidden traps or potentially harmful clauses. After all, you don’t pay for nothing.

Step Four: Stick with Lawyer’s Decisions

Let your lawyer navigate your boat to the home of your dreams, because these waters are often murky or haunted by pirates.

Finally, remember that protecting yourself against a real estate fraud is your own responsibility. Even if your lawyer has read all paperwork, it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with the offered terms and conditions.