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I Just Signed Papers...When Does The Buyer Get Possession Of My Home??

Monday, March 11, 2019   /   by Elizabeth Sorensen

I Just Signed Papers...When Does The Buyer Get Possession Of My Home??

Every Buyer is waiting for that moment when they finally get keys to their new home and get to start moving in. However, it is important for both buyers and sellers to understand at what point the transfer of possession actually happens.

In the purchase and sale contract, this point is called “Time of Possession”. This is the
time of day that possession occurs on the date of possession. Closing is the moment in time when the deed that is conveying title to the buyer is recorded at the courthouse and the seller’s proceeds are available to the seller. This may happen the same day as “signing” or a day or two later.

All time deadlines in the contract occur on the date stated AT the time of 9:00 pm. Closing may occur at anytime during the day- maybe 3:30, so why does the buyer not get possession of their own home until 9:00 at night?? For the Buyer to get possession whenever recording occurs, whether 10:00 AM or 3:00 PM, would give no certainty to the Seller who is trying to move out of the house, get all of their belongings out, make sure it is cleaned behind them and turn over the keys to the Buyers, AND at a time when they know the Buyer is expecting to have the them.

As a case in point, I had a transaction recently where I was representing the Seller. This home had been in their family for nearly 70 years. Due to the Seller’s work schedule, they had made arrangements for their family to meet at the home and have a special time together remembering the years and all of the family memories that were made in that home over many, many decades. This was to happen on the date of possession in the early evening. At this time, they were also planning to grab the last few items and make sure the home was thoroughly cleaned. I had long since informed the my client, the Seller, that they had until 9:00 PM that day (as stated in the contract) to say their final “good-byes” together as a family.

Sadly though, the Buyer’s agent was not well-versed in the contract and was unaware of this provision. Unfortunately, she had told her Buyers that they would get keys as soon as it recorded. They had made arrangements for a moving truck, loaded the truck and were eagerly waiting for the call as to when they could get keys and start moving in. I had the job of informing this agent that the Buyers would not be given keys until 9:00 PM that night, which absolutely infuratiated her. I finally had to circle the pertinent part of the contract in red and send it to her before she would calm down and realize that she had a very uncomfortable call to make to her clients explaining her mistake.

My duty is to protect my clients and do what is in their best interest. Unfortunately, because the Buyer’s agent was not educated in the language of the contract, it caused a lot of unnecessary inconvenience, frustration, and bitter feeling toward all parties. Had they been given clear expectations upfront and when they would actually be given keys and possession to the property, it would have saved them a whole lot of trouble.  

What about a vacant property? Can the Buyer’s Broker just go over and get the keys and hand them over the the Buyer on the day of closing or at least when it is officially recorded at the courthouse? NO! Why? Because there is a binding contract that states possession will not turn over until 9:00 pm on the day of possession. However, a contract is an agreement between two parties and if it is mutually agreed that the contract be amended to state an earlier time on the date of possession, then the parties may agree to do so. Often this
is the case when the home is vacant and it makes no difference to the Seller if it is 2:00 PM or 9:00 PM- but it must be agreed upon by both parties and the contract amended in writing. Otherwise, the buyer’s broker has no right to give keys to the seller’s home until 9:00 pm on the date of possession. If all parties are aware of this and well-informed it will allow for appropriate moving arrangements to be made a much smoother transfer of possession.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly,

Elizabeth Sorensen | Spokane Realtor

Haven Real Estate Group
(509) 844-6539

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Haven Real Estate Group
Cambria Henry
304 W Pacific Ave; Suite 360
Spokane, WA 99201

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