When do I get to move into my new home?

Closing timeline versus possession timeline

With so much going into the home buying process, buyers often forget about the transfer of possession timeline. First-time homebuyers are often under the impression that closing and possession are the same, but that may not be the case. Closing is when the contract between the buyer and seller is finalized, and possession is when the new owner takes actual possession of the property. Due to city and county ordinances, possession can take longer than many expect, and homebuyers, first-time or otherwise, often run into problems with timing.

Sometimes, possession finds its way onto the negotiation table. In a seller’s market, a buyer can include a flexible possession timeline in their offer. In a buyer’s market, just the opposite happens, and the sellers are expected to vacate as soon as possible.

If a seller is unable to vacate for a while after closing, a rental agreement can be entered into the contract. It’s good to know where your seller stands when it comes to possession, and when they need to/are able to move out. As with many points in your offer, being aware of potential issues, and ensuring they’re contained within the offer document can help prevent issues down the road.

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