Aug 11, 2010

Selling Your House: When Should You Move Out?

The ideal when you're selling a house is to move out before you put it on the market, in order to get it nicely decluttered, cleaned, and perhaps staged before you say, "Ta Da!" and show it to prospective buyers.

But that's not practical or financially possible for everyone. You might be waiting to buy or to move into your next house. You may even be less than eager to move, for example if you're saying goodbye to a beloved abode before moving into a smaller retirement space.

Most buyers will, however, expect you to be completely out of the place by closing day. In fact, they might start to regard the house as theirs even before closing. Nevertheless, there are ways to stretch out your stay a little farther.

Some sellers, for example, when negotiating the purchase contract, build in a few days of extra possession just in case the buyers don't successfully close the deal (an increasingly common scenario, with lenders especially prone to last minute rejections of loan requests). Or if you're moving into a rental property that won't become available until the first of the months, you may need a few extra days to close the gap.

Other sellers negotiate for an even longer stay, for example from 60 to 90 days after escrow closes, in order to give them enough time to complete the purchase of another house and move.

You won't normally get to stay in your house for free, however. The new owners will (except in the hottest of markets, where they were competing against other bidders) expect you to pay rent, possibly an upfront security deposit, and to sign a rental agreement covering the length and other  terms of your stay. For more information on such agreements, see Nolo's free online articles on Signing a Lease or Rental Agreement

Also, don't forget to get in touch with your homeowners' insurance agent, to make sure that you're covered -- either by a continuation of your current policy, or by a new, short-term renters' policy.