When Do You Need to Hire a Notary?​​​​​​​

A notary public (also known as a notary), is a trained professional who can provide limited legal services to the public.

Notaries have been around for a long time. Babylonian notaries chiselled the oldest written law into stone over 4000 years ago. At that time, notaries were wise and trusted members of society. Their role was to oversee transactions and guarantee their fairness.

The role has since evolved into a professional service, but its essence is still the same. Notaries still guarantee the fairness and legality of transactions.

When Do You Need a Notary?

There are a number of scenarios in which you should consider hiring a notary. These include:

  • If you’re looking to buy or sell a house
  • If you’re looking to transfer a property to a family member
  • If you’re getting a mortgage
  • If you want to write a will, a representation agreement, or a power of attorney
  • If you or your spouse are planning on travelling with your children
  • If you need to sign an affidavit
  • If you’re moving to another country and need documents notarized

Many people think that they should hire a lawyer to do these things. I’ve written about the difference between lawyers and notaries in the past, but here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

BC Notaries are experts in the areas we choose to practice.  

If we act for you in a residential real estate transaction, for example; our experience will help us to identify issues and deal with them before they become problems.

The Difference Between Lawyers and Notaries

If we do get to a place where litigation is necessary, we have a network of trusted referral partners and we will find a lawyer who’s an expert at litigation.  

What Can Bc Notaries Do for You?

BC Notaries have professional standards dictated by the Notaries Act of BC. They also are governed by the rules, by-laws and best practices dictated by The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia.

That means that at David Watts Notary Public we are certified experts, and can help you with all your notary needs.


We help you complete you with Purchases, Sales, Mortgages and Family Transfers.


Prepare for the future with Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Representation Agreements.


General Notarizations and Certified True Copies of Original Documents as well as Notarize your signature on:

  • Travel Letters
  • Affidavits
  • Statutory Declarations
  • Letters of Invitation
  • Passport Documents
  • Various Applications


Get Documents authenticated and legalized for use in Canada and around the world.

Get In Touch

To find out more including information about our processes and receiving a quote please call or email us.  We are happy to assist you directly or to provide a referral for someone who can help.

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2018 Winner of Georgia Straight’s – Best of Vancouver

Every year Vancourites vote in the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver. Getting to the top is no easy feat – there are so many great businesses servicing the community!

This year we received first place as the “Best Notary”. Previously, our category was called:  “Best Lawyer/Notary When Buying/Selling Real Estate”. This is our ninth win!

A big thank you to all of our amazing clients and referral partners, we couldn’t do it without you.

We are fortunate to have an incredible team working behind the scenes to make the magic happen. Read on to find out what they love about their work and as they share their own Best of Vancouver.

David Watts, Notary Public

What I love about my work:

I love making a difference for people. Sometimes it’s the opportunity to go the extra mile and help people get their real estate transaction done despite challenging circumstances and tight timelines. This is where our office really shines and I’m always happy to hear from clients how one of our team has helped them or done some excellent work.

I also really like sitting down with people to help with their Wills. It’s a chance to get to know my clients and help provide comfort around recording their wishes with their planning documents. Wills Clients often say that the process was much easier than they expected and that they feel like a large burden has been lifted. I love it when people tell me how they feel after they’ve worked with us; it’s always very satisfying.

My favourite thing about Vancouver:

What I like most about Vancouver is the proximity to a variety of outdoor activities.  I love being outside. Vancouver has hiking opportunities, great beaches, golf courses, amazing skiing fairly close by at Whistler; trails around Burrard Inlet and False Creeks.  There so much to do; you can find something outside almost always.

It doesn’t hurt if you have good rain gear this time of year!

Clinton Lee, Notary Public

What I love about my work:

Being able to assist the community with legal services that allow them to move forward in life. Whether it’s allowing a minor to travel with a parent to another country through a notarized consent form or assisting first time home buyers in purchasing their first home, the reward comes with the satisfaction of knowing that each person was able to make a positive step in their life through our services.

My favourite thing about Vancouver:

The ability to obtain virtually any type of food you want. Vancouver holds some of the most amazing world cuisines and having it close by brings so many options and opportunities to always be trying something new.

Liana Zhou, Conveyancing Secretary

What I love about my work:

Helping clients to complete their real estate transactions and hearing back their excitement and a massive smile :).

I always feel happy and supported working with our team. When there’s a huge challenge, we are always here for each other and we fix the issues together.

I also love the degree of control and flexibility with my job. If needed, I am able to make perfect arrangements with our team to accommodate any circumstance.

My favourite thing about Vancouver:

The food! We have so much variety.

Besides trying out new foods, I love to walk my dog, Milo, in the parks, exploring new trials, and meeting new furry friends in my days off!

Hanlu (Lulu) Deng, Conveyancing Secretary

What I love about my work:

99% of the time, I bring good news to people – the emotional reward from clients makes me feel happy to work.

Our system is really well designed and I love to complete my work in an effective and efficient system – I get a sense of satisfaction regarding my everyday tasks.

I love our team. There’s no stress working together, everyone supports each other and we face problems as a team. Everyone is willing to help each other.

My favourite thing about Vancouver:

The top of Blackcomb Mountain during winter and Rivendell Retreat Centre in Bowen Island. I love to ski, hike, swim and eat with my family.

Adrienne Voute, Wills and Advance Planning Secretary

What I love about my work:

The legal profession offers people the opportunity to continually learn. I like working hard and developing a skill until I am good enough to help others benefit from it.

My favourite thing about Vancouver:

One place I really enjoyed this summer was the Steveston Country Farms. I went just before the beginning of fall and all the cute farm animals really put me in an autumn mood.  If you go, grab some of their fresh produce before winter comes and they close for the year.

Samantha Lee, Reception & Conveyancing Assistant

What I love about my work:

I love how everyone in our office works to the best of our abilities and genuinely care about the people we work with.

My favourite thing about Vancouver:

I love hiking our mountains and running our trails… give Golden Ears and Burnaby Lake a shot.

Thanks again!

We are grateful that we earned the appreciation of our clients, peers, and friends to win again this year.

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The Ultimate Guide To Buying Your First Home In Greater Vancouver

The Ultimate Guide To Buying Your First Home in Greater Vancouver

Are you getting ready to buy your first home?

While it’s a big task, when you are arm yourself with the right information, you can avoid setbacks that complicate the purchasing process.

Most of these items can easily be avoided if buyers have access to proper information. That’s why, if you’re looking to buy your first home in Vancouver or the surrounding area; here’s a guide to help you navigate through this complicated (and often daunting) process. 

Before you even start thinking about purchasing a home, there are a few things that you must consider.

Check Your Credit Score

The health of your credit score will dictate whether or not you can secure a loan, how much you can borrow and what interest rate you will get so it’s helpful to find out in advance where you are and what you can do to improve it.

Every lender has their own criteria, however, most consider a score of 650 and above low risk.

According to Mogo, your scores are calculated by:

  • 35% payment history – whether or not you make your payments on time.

  • 30% utilization ratio – they recommend staying before 35% of your total available credit and never going above 70%.

  • 15% length of credit – the longer you have accounts open, the more history it shows of you being responsible with credit.

  • 10% types of credit – have a mix of high risk credit such as credit cards and lines of credit, and low risk personal loans.

  • 10% inquiries – hard credit checks occur when you are applying for new credit, phones and even bank accounts. Too many can affect your credit rating.

Both Equifax and Transunion will give you a free report each year – go here for full instructions. Services such as Mogo and Credit Karma will give you free monthly updates without making formal credit checks that affect your scores.

Make sure to check your credit reports for any errors and look for ways you can improve your credit score by:

  • Paying your bills on time.
  • Paying your debts as quickly as possible.
  • Not going over the credit limit on your credit cards.
  • Reducing the number of credit applications you make.
  • Having healthy credit history.

credit score

Determine What You Can Afford

Given the high prices of real-estate in Vancouver and its surrounding areas, a downpayment for a house or a condo may be a significant amount of money.

You will be required to have at least 5% for a down payment to get a mortgage with default insurance; or at least 20% for a mortgage without default insurance.

You’ll also need to prove to your lender that you can cover your closing costs on top of your down payment.

Closing costs may include:

  • Mortgage Application Fees
  • Mortgage Insurance
  • Appraisal Fees
  • Survey Fees
  • Property Transfer Tax
  • Property Tax
  • GST
  • Legal Fees
  • Land Title Registration Fee
  • Title Insurance

For full details check out our article The First Homebuyer’s Guide to Closing Costs in Vancouver.

You should also factor in moving costs, home insurance and anything you might have to spend as soon as you move into your property.

mortgage budget

Find A Lender

There are a number of different ways to get a mortgage, the most popular being banks, credit unions, and mortgage brokers.

Each will have different terms, conditions, and interest rates.

Working with a mortgage broker will give you access to a wider range of mortgages and lenders than working with a solo lender such as your bank.  

Every mortgage broker will have relationships with different lenders, so ask them who they work with.

Mortgage brokers charge the lender a commission so you don’t have to pay any additional out of pocket fees with institutional mortgages.  There may be additional fees with private mortgages.

To make sure you find the right Mortgage broker, check out our guide on How to Choose the Right Mortgage Broker.

find a lender

Get Pre-approval On A Mortgage

Getting pre-approval doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to get a mortgage, or the amount that you’ve pre-approved for. It means the lender has assessed your financial situation and determined the maximum amount they will lend you and the interest rate they will apply.

Pre-approval allows you to begin looking at homes knowing your price range while understanding your mortgage payments.

Once you have found a home, the approved mortgage amount will depend on the value of the home and percentage of your down payment.

To get pre-approval you’ll need to provide:

  • Appropriate identification
  • Proof of employment or income
    • Your position within the organization.
    • Current salary or hourly rate.
    • Your employment length and history.
    • 2-3 years of your Notice of Assessment when self employed.
  • Proof you have the funds for a down payment.
  • What other assets you own.
  • Your debts and financial obligations including:
    • Credit card payments
    • Car payments
    • Lines of credit
    • Student loans
    • Child or spousal support payments
    • Any other debts

The lender will determine how much they are prepared to lend you based on your credit rating, income, and debts.

Understand Mortgage Penalties

Before signing on the dotted line for a mortgage, make sure that you understand all of the fees associated with your mortgage. One important fee to understand are the penalties you will have to pay if you decide to sell your home and prepay your mortgage.

For more information, check out our article What Are Mortgage Penalties? (And How to Avoid Paying Them)

mortgage penalties

Check to see if you qualify for the First Time Home Buyer’s Program

First time home buyers in British Columbia may qualify for the First Time Home Buyers’ Program.

This program is run by the provincial government, and reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax you pay when you purchase your first home.

In B.C., the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) is a tax of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% of the remaining value of the purchase price to $2,000,000.

This can add up to a significant amount of number, which means that you should definitely check to see if you can be exempt from paying this tax.

Find A Realtor

find a great real estate agent

You don’t NEED a real estate agent to buy a home, but you should consider getting one.

A real estate agent will be able to guide you through the process of searching for and purchasing a house. These professionals are knowledgeable about the market, and have helped close deals in the past. They will make your life easier throughout your purchase.

Because you will be working closely with your real estate agent, it is recommended that you hire someone you trust. Shop around, make some calls, and find someone who you’ll be comfortable working with. 

To make sure you find the right Real Estate Agent, check out our Guide How to Pick the Right Real Estate Agent.

Then, put them to work helping you find a house.

House Search

search for a house

Remember the pre-approval is the maximum your lender will MAY give you. It makes sense to look for properties below the maximum.

Once you have an agent working with you, your mortgage has been pre-approved, and you’ve figured out how much you can spend on a down payment, you’re ready to start looking for a house.

This next phase is complicated and time consuming, and requires you to do a number of things. Here are just a few:


Finding the right house takes time and effort, and a healthy amount of patience.

That’s why, if you’re serious about finding a home, you should place the search high on your list of priorities.

This will inevitably mean making some sacrifices.

You’ll probably be seeing many houses and going into many meetings, so keep that in mind when making plans.

Prioritizing the search also means avoiding large expenses (such as buying a car). Doing this will have an impact on your financial situation, and may mean that your mortgage pre-approval is revoked.

Be Open

Perhaps one of the most important things that first time buyers need to know is that they probably won’t be buying their dream home.

And that’s ok.

Being open to new plans and flexible about your wishes is key to successfully buying your first home.

Maybe the house you find is great but isn’t in the area you wanted. Maybe the location is ideal, but you need to invest in changing wallpaper and cupboards. Maybe the yard is a bit smaller than you wished.

The perfect home possibly doesn’t exist (or is out of your price range) and that is just a reality that everyone has to deal with. 

As long as you have an open mind about your first home, you’ll be fine. And remember: this home will probably not be your forever home, which means that you’ll most likely be able to upgrade down the road. 

Take A Close Look

When selling a home, people often bring in Stagers and do minor facelifts to make the house look its best. This can mean a room might look bigger than it is, or that you don’t notice something.

When you start seriously considering a property, make sure you measure rooms and look closely at what might be hiding behind a coat of paint.

Make An Offer

make an offer

Once you’ve found a home you like and made sure it fits your budget, it’s time to make an offer. 

Making an offer requires that you sit down with your real estate agent (and perhaps a notary public or lawyer) to draw up an offer that incorporates the right amount of “subjects”.

These “subjects” are conditions that protect your purchase. For instance, the offer can include a subject that specifies that unless a fix is made, the offer will be rendered void.

It should also include a subject to inspection condition. This will allow you to get a third party professional to check the house for any serious issues that the untrained eye would miss. Doing so can save you a lot of money in the long run.

If you are getting a mortgage, it should definitely include also include a subject to a financing condition. Your lender may have approved your for financing, but not like that building.  Make sure the lender approves the property as well as you.

If buying a house or detached property, I always recommend you make sure you can get insurance on that property.  Sometimes there are things like older aluminum wiring that can make it difficult. Your lender will require you have insurance before they advance funds; so make sure you can get insurance before you remove subjects are you are obligated to complete.

Get your finance approved

If the seller approves your offer, you must go back to your bank (or mortgage broker) and finish the loan approval process. As long as your financial situation has not changed since getting pre-approval, this should not be a difficult process.

Arrange an inspection

Once your financing has been approved, it’s time to do a final inspection.

This will cost around $500 (or more) and may take a while to do, so book it in as soon as you put your offer in.

Review Closing Costs

Inspection is just one of the many closing costs you’ll have to incur. 

Unfortunately, these costs will add up, and many people don’t know they exist. That’s why it’s important to review them beforehand.

In general, you should keep in mind that these costs could add up to nearly 4% of the final purchasing price.

For more information about Closing Costs, check out our Guide The First Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Real Estate Purchase Closing Costs In Vancouver.


real estate closing

At this point, you should know exactly how much money you’ll need for your BC Notary or Lawyer to complete the transaction. They will let you know what the best way to make this payment is, and will advise you on what you need to bring to the signing.

During this part of the process, you’ll have to go through a lot of paperwork. You’ll also potentially have to go back to the bank to make sure all mortgage details are finalized.

This part of the process may be tedious, but once it’s done, you’ll be the proud owner of your first home!

Next Steps

Now that you know the steps involved in purchasing a home, there are a few things you can do right now to get the ball rolling.

1. Find out how much you can borrow. Doing this will give you a clearer picture of how you’ll be able to pay for your new home.

2. Get advice from a BC Notary. Notaries provide professional legal guidance on the purchase or sale of a home and can help you navigate through the legal part of purchasing a home.

Want to know more? Get in touch now.

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How to Pick the Right Realtor

How to Pick the Right Realtor

Finding a Realtor is almost like finding a partner—you may need to go on a few dates before finding the one. 

Like in dating, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a Realtor. There’s a lot riding on your relationship with this person, you don’t want to invest time and energy in someone you won’t be able to trust. 

Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy or sell a property, finding the right Realtor can make a huge difference on your happiness and your finances. 

What Does a Good Realtor Do?

A Real Estate Salesperson, also known as Real Estate Agent or Realtor is a licensed professional who assist people in the buying and selling of properties.

In British Columbia, these professionals are regulated by the Real Estate Council of B.C., an organization that licenses and trains Realtors. 

There are plenty of licensed professionals in the province, but not all of them are good.

Here are traits that you should look for in a Realtor:

  • They are always one step ahead of you. You never have to follow them up for next steps, they are on top of it.
  • They listen. They understand what you are looking for and your unique situation and they look for solutions.
  • They focus on communication. You are never left wondering what is going on, they keep you up to date, even if the update is that nothing has happened yet since the last update.
  • They deliver on their promises. They do what they say they are going to do, when they said their were going to do it.

Picking The Right One

British Columbia’s real estate market is saturated with Realtors.

According to the Real Estate Council of B.C., in 2016 there were 23,366 licensed Realtors in the province. This adds up to nearly 1 Realtor every 200 people.

Why should you care about this?

Because it means that Realtors are in intense competition with each other, making BC a buyer’s market when it comes to hiring Realtors.

This means that you have the upper hand when it comes to choosing a Realtor. Much like if you were hiring any other employee, it’s important that you know exactly who you are hiring.

That’s why, if you want to pick the right Realtor for you, you should do the following things…

Research And Ask For Referrals And References

Make a list of the Realtors you may know, you find and are referred to you.  If you have colleagues or friends who have bought a home recently; ask how they liked working with their Realtor and who they were.  

Ask your BC Notary, lawyer or mortgage broker for a referral for people they have worked with.   They should be able to tell you fairly quickly who they know, like and trust.  

You can also search online to find Realtors in your area. Be aware however that just because someone is good at being found online, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a good Realtor.   

We know a number of Realtors and would be happy to provide some names to help you find the right fit. Before you start talking to potential Realtors, it’s important that you do some preliminary research.

Search online. A quick Google search will give you the names of Realtors in your neighbourhood. More popular Realtors may even have reviews posted online. Read these reviews and come up with a list of six or seven Realtors in your area that may look promising. 

Talk to you neighbours, friends & colleagues. Once you’ve created a shortlist of potential Realtors, talk to people you know. Ask your neighbours if they have worked with anyone on your list, and see if they have anyone else to recommend. If someone has had anything less than a good experience with a Realtor, immediately cross them off the list.

Reach out to the Realtors. Once you have a set list of potential Realtors, it’s time to contact them. See what kind of vibe you get and ask for references from previous clients. If you get a good vibe, keep them on the list, if you don’t cross them off.

Interview, Interview, Interview

Whether you are selling or buying, it’s important to always interview at least three Realtors.

These interviews may seem intimidating at first, but remember. You are in control. They have to impress you, not the other way around. 

These interviews are important to figure out if the Realtor has the perfect balance between credentials and chemistry.  You also need to absolutely trust your Realtor.

During each interview, make sure you ask yourself if this is a person you like and trust–and don’t forget to ask them the following five questions…

Five Key Questions To Ask A Potential Realtor

Five key questions to ask a potential real estate agent

1. How well do you know the regional market?

Experts recommend that you stick to Realtors who work within a 15 kilometre radius of the listed home. This ensures that they know the area and the market well.

2. How many listings do you have?

Figuring out how many listings a Realtor has will give you an idea of the kind of attention you’ll get from them. 

A Realtor with too many listings will be stretched too thin. This means that they may not be able to help you when you need. At the same time, too few listings may be a sign that there’s something wrong with that person.

What’s the magical number then?

It’s hard to say, but experts suggest that anywhere between 10 and 15 listings will allow your Realtor to pay attention to you. 

3. Will you handle my listing personally?

There’s nothing wrong with hiring a Realtor that has a lot of listings. In fact, sometimes it’s good to get high-profile Realtors that can help sell a property with their own name.

If that’s the case, it’s often likely that the Realtor will not be handling your listing personally. 

Some people are often caught off guard when they hire a Realtor but instead end up working with a member of their team.  Some Realtor teams have designated individuals for working with buyers and some sellers; you get benefits of the knowledge of the team and individual attention of the team member specializing in what you need.

Make sure you know if the Realtor will be handling your listing personally or relying on team members. 

4. What is your commission?

It’s important that you know exactly how much you’ll be paying a Realtor prior to hiring their services.  Most often in British Columbia, the Seller pays the Realtor’s commission.

Here are a few questions you should definitely ask potential Realtors before you hire them.

  • What is their commission structure?
  • What are marketing costs?
  • Are there extra costs for things like home staging?

Figuring these things out will help add to your understanding of the process and choose the right real estate for you.

5. What’s the strategy?

Good Realtors will have a strategy to help you buy or sell a property before meeting with you. Great Realtors are able to explain this strategy to perfection.

When you’re interviewing potential Realtors, make sure to ask them about strategy, and see what they bring to the table.

In the end, you’ll want to choose someone who is prepared and knows exactly what they need to do to help you; and who you think you can trust.

Constantly review your relationship

Once you’ve selected an Realtor, its extremely important to maintain an ongoing review of your working relationship with them.

Sometimes Realtors put in a lot of work initially, but their efforts peter out over time.

Being open about any problems or issues you are facing is crucial to building a successful working relationship with your Realtor.

By reviewing the relationship, you stop your time and energy being wasted with someone who isn’t right for you, allowing you to find the right Realtor.  If find out you are not happy after working with someone, you can find a new Realtor.

While relationships with Realtors can sour, following the steps outlined above steps and asking the right questions before you settle on an Realtor will give you a better chance to find The One in your first attempt!

If you have any questions, or would like a referral for a Realtor in your market; please email or phone me.

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