When can buyers take possession of a house after closing?

Large American beautiful house with red door.

Dave,

I recently sold my home and before and during the closing the buyer stated they would give me a few extra days to even a week to move out after closing. The day after closing they showed up looking to move-in and informed me a locksmith would be showing up at 4:00pm to change the lock. Needless to say I was still packing the small stuff and the new owners stood in the living room hovering over me the entire time.

I called my Realtor and was told that technically I had until 11:59 pm if I wanted. My Realtor then called theirs and told them to leave but they just went outside and hung out there. I do have to mention that I let them come over a few times so they could measure for windows and things during the process and I feel like I accommodated them. I feel like they should have done the same and let me finish packing, which was done by 6pm.

What are your thoughts about this?

Chris K., Grand Junction         


Chris,

I am sorry to hear about your experience, but I can assure you that you are not the only seller who has suffered the fate of the helicopter buyer trying to take possession of their new home after closing! It can be SUPER stressful and no fun for all parties involved.

I am confident you can chalk this one up to the often overlooked, possession date and time of possession portion of the contract to buy and sell real estate. Just for kicks let’s just add in a little poor communication for good measure. Seems like most things that go wrong have a smidge of poor communication sprinkled in, so we will just make the assumption that this situation was no different. It is my experience, and I have been guilty of doing it myself, that everyone has such a keen eye on the closing date that the possession date and time of possession fall out of focus and are left with little attention until they create a problem. 

time-of-possesion

Every contract has a specific field for closing date, possession date AND time of possession. In your case it sounds like you had possession until 11:59 pm of the day of closing (either written in the time of possession portion of the contract or that section was left blank). The unfortunate part of this situation is the above referenced “smidge of poor communication” or lack of buyer understanding about when they could take possession. Most Colorado contracts that I deal with have the possession time read “at closing”, meaning that when you close the house and the money has arrived then the buyer is the new owner and takes possession at that time. If that field is left blank and no time is designated, then it defaults to 11:59 pm (per the portion of the contract that specifically references the definition of “a day”) the day of close.  This appears to be similar to the circumstances surrounding your contract. 

It is my guess the buyer did not realize when they were contractually able to take possession and assumed that it would be at close OR they were not informed that you had until 11:59 pm on the day of close to get out, before they were to take possession.

It is my guess the buyer did not realize when they were contractually able to take possession and assumed that it would be at close OR they were not informed that you had until 11:59 pm on the day of close to get out, before they were to take possession. Either way, the circumstances were not ideal and uncomfortable.

I will also note that it is VERY typical for a buyer to want to come back to the home they are purchasing and measure for window blinds, refrigerators, televisions, beds etc. They would likely not see this as you “accommodating” them, but that they were just making preparations for purchasing your home and gathering needed information. I am sure they did not view it as putting you out in any way.

You are right, it would have been great for them to just leave and come back at a later time, but they may have not had anywhere to really go. This is one of those times to just handle the situation with class and an opportunity to show some grace! Most of the time the stress of the situation and the lack of communication tend to make these issues larger than they really are. I totally get your frustration, but it’s a great opportunity to look at it from another perspective and consider what could be done differently next time in order to prevent the same thing from occurring again! On the bright side, you did give them possession 6 hours early!  : )

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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