Buyer Possession Before Closing: Wise Decision for a Home Seller?

We are often asked to address the question of a Buyer asking a Seller for permission to move into, or to store furniture in, the home being purchased prior to Closing.

The short answer to the Seller should be there are several concerns with agreeing to the Buyer’s request and that the Seller should get the advice of a lawyer before giving such permission.

So, what are some of these “concerns”?

1. The sale might fall through due to a problem with the lender not advancing the financing for some reason. Should this happen, the listing agent is back to square one, trying to find another buyer for the home, but this time with someone occupying the property under some legal capacity, e.g., a renter, license to occupy, etc. In a perfect world, the Buyer would vacate, but there have been instances where the Buyer does not vacate the property and Sellers must take legal action to remove the Buyer. This can cause a delay in the Seller being able to get the property back on the market in a timely fashion.

2. The Buyer might feel the house is already theirs and begin to make changes, maybe changes the Seller doesn’t appreciate or that could devalue the property. If the transaction doesn’t close, the Seller’s would be stuck with the Buyers' improvements, some of which may only be partially completed and thereby impacting the remarketing of the property.

3. The Buyer might see things like defects in the home that they missed on their initial inspection of the property and now want out of the deal or to negotiate a holdback or they won’t close the transaction.

4. The worst-case scenario is the sale does not complete and the Buyer has trashed the house or put in an illegal grow-op.

5. The Seller not being adequately insured to protect him for all contingencies? Who is responsible if the buyers have a party and one of the guests falls and is badly hurt, or if some of the buyers’ possessions are stolen from the house, or if the house burns down while in the care, custody, and control of the Buyer? The Seller could suffer significant financial loss from such events, as well as the transaction being frustrated, due to the subject matter of the contract, i.e., the house no longer being in existence.

There are many potential issues and the Seller would be well advised to seek independent legal advice, as well as the advice for their Realtor.

For some great advice on buying or selling Vernon homes, call RE/MAX Vernon Salt Fowler and “Just Add Salt” 

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