hourglass waiting

3 tips for sellers – from closing to buyer occupancy

Bridging no man’s land between closing and occupancy.  One long day at at time.

Yea!   We closed!  Nearly everything is packed!

And still, we wait.

It wasn’t something I expected or really understood, this delay between the date we close the house and when the sellers move out so we can move in.  I have a handle on it now, but in some ways, I don’t.

Real Estate Gap Year

Where we live here in Ohio, the typical closing timeframe is 45 days and the sellers are usually given 10 days to move out after closing.

One one hand, I get it.  Closings fall through, things get messed up and if the seller needed to be out on the closing date, this could make things rather inconvenient for them.  Similarly, if they need to close on their sale before they can close on their new house, they need some flex time.  As a one-day seller, I might really appreciate these gap days.

But as a buyer, they are wholly frustrating.  Someone will be living in my house, one I am insuring and responsible for, basically for free.  What in the world sort of a plan is that?  Now, if the seller were to sign a short-term rental agreement, this could protect us (and them) in a situation where something would go wrong with the house.  But no, instead we just let mostly strangers stay living in their former house while I’m on the hook in case anything goes wrong.


There’s also a bit of an uncertain element, that makes it difficult to plan.  The sellers have no more than 10 days, but could technically be out early.  If they are, I have things I’d like to do.  If not, well then I can’t.

Perhaps this is just whining…

There are, however, some murky legal grounds surrounding this situation, which I’ll talk about later.

For now, I just wanted to share my list of things that sellers should do on their end of the house transfer/moving process to make things as smooth as possible for everyone.

1. Communicate!

It’s a lot easier to be understanding and considerate if you’re upfront and clear about what’s going on.  Having trouble finding someone to move your piano?  In a major jam and would be thrilled to have the chance to rent back for a month or so?
Let the buyer know!  Maybe there is something that works for both of us.  However, we can’t solve any problems that might pop up if you keep them secret.

Same goes if something happens to the house while you’re living there.  I’m on the hook for everything, please keep me in the loop.

2. Don’t complain.

At our closing, our realtor tried to facilitate a discussion between us and the sellers about the key hand-off and the utility transfer.  This led both sellers to start complaining about their moving situation, finding “helpers” to move their stuff on short notice, and how two elderly and retired people had “only” one weekend to move.

I bit my tongue on the fact that, they had been trying to sell the house for 8 months, we agreed to do this a month and a half ago, and we had just given them really, a crap ton of money.

It’s our house and we would like to live there, please.

3. Be courteous.

Moving is really difficult.  I don’t expect the house to perfectly spotless (my house I’m living in isn’t even CLOSE to perfectly spotless) but try to leave things at least as tidy as you can.

There are obviously lots of different reasons for selling and for buying.  Maybe you aren’t feeling thrilled to sell.  Or maybe you’re actually over the moon because you get to move on to something you love.  Either way, politeness at closing and at the actual handoff is much appreciated.

Real estate transactions are both closing and opening chapters for both parties – the waiting for both can be excruciating for both.  But with a little goodwill, the waiting too can be bearable.

Thoughts? Share them with me!