Possession Challenges You May Run Into When You Close On A Home

Posted on: 13 February 2017

It's common for home buyers to assume they'll receive keys to their new home the moment they close, and sometimes this happens. Most of the time, however, closing and possession are two separate events that happen days, weeks, or  even months apart. Here are two things that may affect your possession date and what you can do to avoid or deal with them.

The Seller Can't Move in Time

One common reason for possession delays is due to the home seller being unable to move out of the property within the allotted time period. Typically, the seller and buyer will agree on a date when the seller must vacate the home. Unfortunately, sometimes moving day comes around and the seller still isn't ready to leave.

The best way to handle this depends on the circumstances. You have the right to ask the seller to adhere to the contract and leave on the agreed date, which is something you may want to do if the seller is delaying for unacceptable reasons (e.g. procrastination) or you will be in a bind if you don't get into the home as agreed (e.g. you'll have no place to live).

However, it's typically best to be a little flexible if the reason for the delay is due to unforeseen events occurring. For instance, the seller experiences a medical emergency that forced him or her to postpone making moving arrangements. If you can, try to give the person another few days to get out of the house. If the reason for the delay is somewhere between laziness and critical (e.g. sheer bad luck), you can enact a rent-back option where the seller pays rent on the home for the extended time he or she is occupying the space. This will provide you with income you can use to pay for your living costs somewhere else.

There's Trouble with the Loan

Another reason why there may be delays in taking possession of your home is when problems with the loan pop up. The contract may say when you're able to move in. Unfortunately, lenders can become wild cards in this situation and do things that may cause funding for the home to be delayed. For instance, the underwriters may require a loan condition (e.g. put two months of expenses in a savings account) be satisfied before they will sign off on the agreement.

In this case, the home sellers typically will not turn over the keys until they get their money. Some sellers may be willing to let you move into the home and pay a monthly rent until the situation is worked out, but you can't count on that. It's essential you remain in contact with the bank throughout the process to avoid any surprises like this.

For more information about possession issues that may arise during the home buying process, contact a real estate agent.