Can we move in before the closing?
Sometimes, the timing of a real estate closing gets pushed back. Delays in final loan approval, problems coordinating the schedules of buyers and sellers and agents, repairs that haven’t been completed. There are a myriad of reasons that the act of sale ends up being on a different date than the one in the contract. Imagine you’re a new home buyer and have all of your stuff on a truck, ready to roll. In a buyer’s head it probably makes sense to ask “can we move in before the closing?” if there’s a last minute delay.
Pros and Cons of Early Occupancy for Buyers
Buyer Pro: You don’t have to reschedule the movers, the utility hook-ups or your friends that you promised pizza and beer in exchange for helping you get things settled in.
Buyer Con: You’re effectively a tenant during the early occupancy period and your belongings will not be covered by the owner’s insurance in the event of a fire or natural disaster. The cost of early occupancy can be steep, with some sellers charging a high amount of rent to cover their risk and inconvenience. If you’re tight on funds to close, this could actually tank your entire sale.
Pros and Cons of Early Occupancy for Sellers
You will rarely find a listing agent that will recommend allowing buyers to take possession before closing. Too many things can go wrong!
Seller Pro: You can negotiate rental payments from the buyers to cover the time they will occupy the property prior to closing, putting a little extra money in your pocket.
Seller Con: If the closing gets cancelled instead of delayed, you are now a landlord. If the buyers don’t leave, you will need to take steps to evict tenants you didn’t plan to have.
Seller Con: The buyer may begin to make changes or improvements to the property and if the closing never happens, you may be stuck with a half finished project that you’ll need to clean up. OR, they may begin to find little things wrong with the house and start asking for additional repairs to be made.
Seller Con: The worst case scenario is that the sale is cancelled and the buyers completely trash the house. No matter how nice you think someone is, disappointment and hurt feelings can make people do things they wouldn’t normally consider.
Our professional advice?
Don’t do it. It may not be convenient to either party, but taking early occupancy off the table is much better than cleaning up a mess after the fact.