Advise Your Clients Not to Let Buyers Move in Before Closing

Services for Real Estate Pros with Goprosystems

Most of the time when we buy something, we do not get to take possession of it until we have paid for it. Unless there is some kind of rent-to-own agreement in place, a seller will normally hold onto an item or a house until they have received payment. However, there are exceptions to every rule. In rare cases in real estate, a seller may end up allowing a buyer to move in before closing.

As a real estate professional, you may have experienced or heard of a colleague experiencing some kind of glitch where things do not go as planned and closing is pushed back or the transaction is cancelled altogether. With that in mind, it is in your best interest to advise a seller not to allow a buyer to live in or otherwise access the house before closing.

What sometimes happens is a buyer has what seems like a perfectly reasonable request or they ask for what seems like a small favor. For example they may ask if furniture they purchased be put in an empty house prior to closing. Well, we all know how expensive it is to buy a home, and storage is not free, but what happens if deliverymen damage the property? Or the buyer may ask to move in before closing because they have nowhere to live. If need be, help them find a hotel, but do not let them stay in the property because if something unexpected happens, the seller still owns it.  While it is nice to be nice, it just makes sense that a buyer can only use the house as they wish, once the paperwork is completed and they own it.

There are any number of possible scenarios in which letting a buyer move in before the deal is sealed can backfire. There are also any number of insurance issues that can crop up and as was mentioned, the seller owns the house until the buyer signs all of the paperwork, so anything that happens until then is the responsibility of the seller.


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Re-Blogged 6 times:

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  1. Deborah "Dee Dee" Garvin 07/06/2010 07:37 AM
  2. Marilyn Boudreaux 07/06/2010 07:50 AM
  3. Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team 07/06/2010 10:15 AM
  4. Barbara Kornegay 07/06/2010 10:47 PM
  5. Kyle Jan 07/07/2010 07:43 AM
  6. 1~Judi Barrett 07/07/2010 08:48 AM

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Darryl Brasseur
Brasseur Realty - Prairieville, LA

It happened to me and now there is NO way a buyer will move in before closing again. The lender called and advised there was a small glitch and the loan would not fund in time to close and they did not allow dry closings. Monday would be the day it would close...It's Friday afternoon and he proceeds to ask if the buyer can set his furniture because the moving trucks were "on their way" and his family had scheduled time off to help the buyer move...Sounded like a reasonable request right? Until I get a call the Saturday morning from the buyer agent advising that the A/C quit working...I ride out to the house and the whole family had taken refuge in the house..Grilling steaks in the house and everything..I called out an A/C tech that is a friend and he came out. SO glad it was only a minor part that went out. It really made me think!!

Jul 06, 2010 06:30 PM #48
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Jon, It’s relatively common for sellers to rent back … buyers moving in before the close … NOT … Not on my watch. Way to much risk and liability!

Jul 06, 2010 06:58 PM #49
Nathan Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Davenport, FL
Your Central Florida Real Estate Expert
As difficult as it is to get someone out of the house I can't see why someone would take this risk. Deals fall apart all the time.
Jul 06, 2010 07:01 PM #50
Jerry Mcclellan
Goprosystems - Westlake Village, CA

Wow, guys. Thanks you for all the comments, great reading, great advice.

@ Cara - I think that has to be the worst case. I cant imagine something like that. wow.

Jul 07, 2010 04:34 AM #51
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Jon......most excellent timing on your post...for me

I was ready to consider letting a buyer move things in or move-in altogether. Never mind the details except to say that everything makes sense at this time. In the interest of bending over backwards, exceptional customer service and good word of mouth, I was leaning toward doing it. After reading your post and the its most excellent comments, there will be no moving in before COE at this time.

Thank you and your commentators


Jul 07, 2010 04:57 AM #52
Kyle Jan
Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix AZ Homes for Sale

Like my mother always said"if it isn't yours, don't touch it!".  It's not yours until the deed is recorded and fun ds are disbursed, so move along little doggie.

Jul 07, 2010 07:41 AM #53
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK


I have had buyers that wanted to do that.. I have had sellers that thought it was a good idea.  I've only actually had it happen once and it went fine, but I do not believe it's a good idea.

Jul 07, 2010 08:48 AM #54
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good afternoon Jon,

Excellent is not a good idea to allow buyers to move in before closing esepecially in the current mortgage crisis!

Jul 07, 2010 10:37 AM #55
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA


We have all heard way too many stories, or suffered from personal experience, about what can happen when a buyer moves in before closing. The problems may be few in number but they will be large in size. The idea of giving a buyer a "free trial period" to find out what they don't like about the house is a real turn-off.

Jul 07, 2010 12:35 PM #56
Colin Moody
HCo Properties - Durham, NC


great post..I've had several requests from buyers who've asked to move in prior to closing but have always advised my seller clients of the many risks associated with allowing this. I have had it happen once due to circumstances that would be an entire post. I did however insist that my clients protect themselves through a lease agreement.

Jul 07, 2010 01:56 PM #57


Great post. It seems like I am getting this question more and more. Nothing seems to close on time any more... I always advise my sellers to not let the buyers move in early for all of the reasons I have seen up above.  I recently had a deal fall through the day before closing. You just never know!


Jul 08, 2010 01:07 AM #58


Great post. It seems like I am getting this question more and more. Nothing seems to close on time any more... I always advise my sellers to not let the buyers move in early for all of the reasons I have seen up above.  I recently had a deal fall through the day before closing. You just never know!


Jul 08, 2010 01:07 AM #59

This is ansinine! There are many legitimate reasons for a buyer to move in before closing. As long as the buyer has proved themselves, then the seller should entertain the idea. For instance, I myself am moving to a city to go to college. I have already ahd an inspection, paid the title company, had an appraisal done, and have been approved for the loan. The problem? The lender wants to see two weeks worth of paystubs from my new job that I am transferring to (have worked with the company for about three years). How am I suppposed to work somewhere when I don't live there yet?! Finding a rental that will let you rent for only two to three weeks is asking for a miracle. Heck, it's nearly impossible to find a place that will let you rent monthly! Bottom line, if the buyer is shelling out cash, then that means they want the damn house! Why would I waste close to THREE THOUSAND dollars in travel, appraisal, title, and inspection just to walk away??? THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE!!! Before all this home buying mess, lenders and sellers were just giving things away and being waaaay too lenient. Now, not even a decent, hard-working American who has all their ducks in a row will be treated fair. C'mon!

Aug 11, 2010 06:00 PM #60

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  My realator has suggested that I let the buyer move in before closing.  I'm rather mad that she even suggested the idea to me,  She made it sound like it was a simple and good thing to do.

Unhappy in Seattle

Aug 28, 2010 06:07 AM #61

Tamara, I will likely be in the same position that you find yourself. I will be starting a new job, and will not be able to close prior to one or two paychecks. That means that I will have to figure out how to manage for a month - where will I put all my furniture? Where will I sleep? Sure, putting things in storage for a month and staying in a hotel for a month are all options, but the seller could just as easily be the one putting things in storage and living in a hotel with the way real estate is now. In this market, I think sellers should entertain the idea of preclosing possession with a contract drawn up by an experienced real estate attorney to make things more convenient for the buyer. I asked my agent to ask the sellers if they would consider this arrangement, and they said they needed the money from the sale before they are able to move. I wonder if they knew I would not make an offer on their home otherwise if they would suddenly become creative in figuring out how to make all of this work? I guess it depends on how badly they wish to sell.

Oct 26, 2010 10:47 AM #62
Teri Pacitto
Compass - Westlake Village, CA
Real Estate, Your Style...Your Home...My Specialty

I am amazed that Buyer Agents continue to ask that question - Period!   I just had a call a couple of days ago and it went like this.  Hi Teri, I need you to make me a hero and let my clients move in as they are older, have closed escrow on their home and are living in a hotel.   The "make me a hero" part has stuck in my mind for a few days now and just yesteday I received another call from the agent who now asks for his clients to just get in and clean. 

Of course, the answer is still no....but the Make Me a Hero will stick in my mind for many years to come.  Don't make the other agent a hero at the expense anyone! 

Nov 04, 2010 03:38 AM #63

Never never never let the buyer move in early or place any of their property in your home while you are still the owner.  I had a friend who sold her house and the buyer wanted to store some things in her attic before closing and moving in.   She said no.  Good thing since later the buyer initiated a baseless lawsuit stating my friend had failed to disclose things on the sellers disclosure.  Not only did she not do anything like this but the buyer had their own inspector in who found nothing wrong with the house.  They wanted my friend to give them $100,000 and take the house back.  I can only imagine what would have happened if she allowed them to store belongings in her home prior to closing and her being out - all of the sudden the belongings would have come up damaged or missing and they would of course be expensive items.   I think this couple was looking for a  lawsuit before they even moved in because they figured out that my friend had money.  Turned out when we ran an investigation on them pre-trial that they had a history of filing lawsuits.  

On another note, those of you who are realators have no business asking your clients to do this thereby placing them in legal jeapordy all because you are trying to make a sale.   The answer should ALWAYS BE NO!

Oct 09, 2011 08:37 AM #64
Dirty realtor
So what if my listing agent knows that the buyers agent advised his clients to move into our home that it was a bank owned property fact it's NOT we own it.... So we now have a new fridge lol.... Can i sue
Dec 21, 2011 07:18 PM #65
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Jon, I just had a selling agent ask if the buyers could install carpet the day before they close?  The request always seem reasonable until something blows up.

Jun 28, 2012 08:45 AM #66

We had a buyer want to move her furniture out of storage and into our home a week before completion. We ended up pulling out before the missives were signed as she was a real pain and we couldn't cope with her bizarre requests. Our solicitor spoke to other solicitors and discovered she was known in the area for winding sellers up and withdrawing at the very last minute. She'd done this to 3 other couples that we knew of. Same scenario each time. Rather strange but her partner was running from Child Maintenance (he let this slip when he visited first time for a viewing as he had a good drink on him). Goodness knows who they were! A pair of rogues I think.

Aug 02, 2019 08:21 AM #67
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