Practicing real estate law in testing times – Facing the COVID19 challenge

Real Estate is undoubtedly one of the most happening industries all over the world. Purchasing a property is a serious business. The presence of a real estate lawyer is an integral part of the process, if someone is buying a property. A real estate attorney’s help is imperative in reviewing the paperwork before closing. But the conventional process involved in the purchase of a property has become difficult ever since the pandemic crept in. It has drastically affected the way real estate attorney’s work.

In the series of coverage on the pandemic’s impact on several local businesses, The voice of Local business has interviewed an eminent real estate lawyer, John Zinati, from Toronto to learn about how he overcame the pandemic’s challenges and how he is coping with the changes in the practice.

A fresh set of challenges:

John Zinati practices real estate law through his law firm, Zinati Kay Barristers & Solicitors, Toronto, ON. When the pandemic first hit, there were plenty of constraints in practicing real estate law. He recollected the prime challenge, and said, “One of the biggest struggles we had was how we were going to sign-up clients for closings. There was a law society requirement, and one for many banks as well, that clients making the required declarations on closing had to be present in person. We are also declared as an essential service, which means we had to keep practicing.”

He further said, “Fortunately, the Law Society adjusted the rules, and the banks came along as well so that now we are completing all of our clients virtually, and clients do not have to come into our office to sign the paperwork. Everything is done through virtual appointments, and funds are transferred electronically.”

Amending the working pattern:

To stick with the social distancing norms, they had to make alternative arrangements to continue their practice. John said, “We worked with our clients to make alternate arrangements for signing appointments, delivery of keys and funds and implemented policies and technology at the office that allowed us to continue to practice and serve our clients without ever needing them to come into the office.”

John’s thoughts on the future of the real estate industry:

While asked about his views on the future of the real estate industry, considering the current effect of the pandemic, John said, “I think that one of the effects of the pandemic is to kickstart the real estate practice into the future and firms will have to adjust to this new reality. They will have to have the tools and technology to allow them to work with their clients remotely while ensuring that there is no drop in the quality of service or the assurance that they give on the title or the security of the funds they deliver. I think the real estate industry will survive and be stronger if the right changes and adaptations are made.”

Insights to other business owners:

John recommends the utilization of a technology-oriented approach for other fellow business owners to navigate through the challenging times. He said, “Other business owners should be ready to respond to these challenges and see them as positive ways to deliver better service and quality to their clients. While the change might seem daunting at first, once the adjustments are made, it is possible that your clients will be happier, and your business will run more smoothly despite the challenges.”

John Zinati continues to serve his clients amidst the pandemic, and also upholds the need for safety during these times. He concluded with a positive note, saying, “I wish that everybody keep well and safe in the circumstances and remember that the health of ourselves and our families should always be the paramount consideration. Our societies and world have faced greater challenges and survived well. We can also do so.”

We at the Voice of Local Business, hope that John’s voice is the reflection of plenty of real estate attorneys who are striving to work through this pandemic to ensure support and assistance to the real estate business.


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