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Beware Early Move-In

Posted June 6th, 2012 under pitfalls, smart selling.

Sometimes, when a deal has been reached and the closing date is drawing near, the buyer asks the seller whether it would be okay to store some possessions in the garage, or in the home after the seller has moved out.

Such a request seems innocent enough—the sellers have moved their belongings out, and the house is empty, so why shouldn't they help out the buyers? After all, it'll be their home soon.

However, there is a caveat.

Though the house is empty and available, legally speaking, it is still the responsibility of the seller. Furthermore, it is insured under the seller's home insurance until the day of closing. There are no special considerations just because the house is going to change hands. In the eyes of the law, it's still the seller's home and the seller's responsibility until the moment of closing.

So what happens if the buyer's possessions are damaged? What happens if somebody breaks in and steals something? What happens if the buyer trips and falls on the stairs while moving their belongings?

If any of thse seem far-fetched, here's an even more obvious possibility: what if the buyer damages the walls or doors while moving their stuff in?

Remember, the home is still the responsibility of the seller. The seller would be liable for any home repairs, and for replacing stolen or damaged property! The seller's insurance would also be the one to pay if the buyer were injured somehow.

It's natural to want to help someone out, especially when you have just made an important agreement with them. But check with your lawyer before you allow early move-in, to make sure you aren't putting yourself at undue risk.

Want to know more about pulling off a smooth closing? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.

--Peter

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