Multiple Lawyers? Are pre-move renovations worth it?


Dear David,

We retired last year. We want to re-locate across the province to be closer to our grandkids. When the time comes, is it possible to use one lawyer for the sale of our current house and the purchase of our new one? – MILES APART

DEAR MILES: Congratulations on moving closer to your grandkids! Family time will be much more enjoyable when you can eliminate the hassle of long-distance travel. You’ll have plenty of time to babysit and attend hockey practice, which sounds like a retirement dream job to me.

When it comes time to sell your home and purchase a new one, you can use a single lawyer. Title transfer is done electronically, so one lawyer can handle both sides with the proper co-ordination.

That said, you will need to use two Realtors. When a client of mine is moving out of town, I generally refer them to an agent I trust in their new location. Real estate markets vary significantly from one city to the next, so it’s important to work with someone who knows the local nuances and neighbourhoods.

Your agents can work in lockstep to keep things running smoothly. In a highly competitive market like ours, your local Realtor should be able to control the closing date of your current home to fit with the needs of your out-of-town purchase. And as I often say, the moving process will get infinitely easier once you know where you’re going.

PRO TIP: It’s nice to have a few weeks between the closings of your purchase and sale to get things moved and settled. Unless you have the cash on hand to own two houses, this will require a mortgage specialist to arrange bridge financing for you. Ask your Realtor for a referral.

Dear David,

My husband thinks we should re-do our kitchen and both bathrooms before selling our house. Is it worth it? – RELUCTANT RENOVATOR

DEAR RELUCTANT: It’s probably not a bad idea to have an experienced Realtor come by and give you their two cents. Kitchens and bathrooms are significant renovations in a buyer’s eyes. They also tend to be two of the most expensive projects you can take on, short of adding an addition. Upgrades like these never hurt, but they won’t necessarily save the day when it comes to your home sale.

Just as holistic medicine looks at the whole body, you need to take a big-picture look at your house. Is a major investment worth it in this context? Painting, carpets, flooring and landscaping are all major factors in a sale, as are fundamentals that should be in good repair, like the HVAC and roof. Sometimes, your return on investment in one area can be negated if the rest of the property isn’t up to snuff.

PRO TIP: When it comes to pre-sale renovations, an honest cost-benefit analysis can save you time and money. I never recommend spending a dollar just to get a dollar back. #AskDavid #Advice