Help me! I Have a Seller Who Insists on Letting the Buyer In...

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Alliance Group 3056963

...Before the closing.  Finally, after four months of heavily marketing the home at 718 Shadow Bay Way, in Sarasota Florida. I have a great contract to purchase this beautiful piece of Real Estate!  However, the buyer somehow got in touch (by phone) with the seller and asked her if he could move stuff into the garage BEFORE the closing.  She told him YES.  Then she asked me if it was okay.  I told her NO WAY and immediately contacted the agent for the buyer.  I told him to PLEASE sit down with his buyer and explain that in no way, should he be contacted the seller directly.

The buyer's agent said he would do that and that these folks haven't bought a home in many, many years and just didn't know how things worked.

Then today, my associate, Joe was driving by the house and discovered THE BUYER, putting stuff into the garage.  He stopped to ask him how he got in and the buyer said that the seller gave him the code to the garage keypad.

I have contacted the seller to tell her to change the code, but she says now it's too late and she doesn't want to make waves.  I told her the waves would start if something happens at the closing and those people have to get their stuff out.  I told her that there is a liability issue and that's she's responsible if anything happens to them while they are on her property.

I contacted the buyer's agent and told him the same thing.  I'm asking for your help...your horror stories that you can share with me so that I can forward them to my seller.  The closing is on August 20.

Thanks for your help

Comments (12)

Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Just be glad it's almost August 20th. 

Once the deed is done, the decisions made by the buyers and sellers, I wouldn't be concerned.  If it turns out badly, so be it. 

Trying to undo what has been done is worse than letting them live with their own decisions.  It is the sellers property and it is the buyers property in the garage.

I would make detailed notes to the file. 

It's too late for horror stories.  You're living one.  Five more days.  Five more days.


Aug 15, 2007 11:09 AM
Joe Dallorso
Ocala, FL
Ocala Real Estate

Hi Nicki

This isn't a horror story but it is about an out of control buyer. I had a vacant house and a few days before closing I went to check on it to find an enormous brush pile in the back yard. It seems the buyer had decided to start working on the yard before actually closing on the property.

Aug 15, 2007 11:12 AM
Debbie Johnson
REMERICA United Realty - Novi, MI
Novi, MI Real Estate Professional


I have found from experience that once the buyers and sellers have one another's phone number, you can quickly lose control.  About 4 months ago, I had a client (seller) who allowed the buyer to actually move into their house.  It was vacant and the buyer was an acquaintance.  The seller felt that it would be ok and chose to notify me after the fact.  I told him that I would never have allowed him to do such a thing.  About a  week later, the lender discovered that one of the buyer's parents had been paying their previous mortgage and both buyers had lied about their income.  Needless to say, the deal fell apart leaving the buyers occupying a home that they did not own.  The seller fortunately was able to convince the buyers to move out and had to pay to have the carpet cleaned.  A lesson learned the hard way.

It sounds like you are doing the best you can.  The seller has decided to make their own decisions against your advice.  The closing is right around the corner.   Hopefully, everything works out. 

Aug 15, 2007 11:14 AM
Ray Perry
CENTURY 21 The Neil Company Real Estate - Roseburg, OR
Realtor, CRS, GRI, e-PRO

Seller let a buyer in before closing without a rental agreement or depots.  Buyer couldn't perform because the loan fell through at the last moment.  The buyer wouldn't leave, ended up trashing the house causing thousands of dollars in damage.  It too two court appearances, four months and the sheriff to get them out.  There was no insurance so the seller had to pay for the damages out of pocket as well as not being able to sell their home for several months till it was refurbished.  Sad story.

Aug 15, 2007 11:18 AM
Wendy B. White
Remax Dream - Fort Myers, FL
Making Dreams, Come True

Well there's not much that can be done now without making waves. I would probably get an agreement signed by the buyer and seller saying that the seller is not liable for anything that could happen/or anything the buyer does period while in the home.  And included in there, that should anything happen and the deal doesn't close, the buyer will have his things moved out immediately.  Thats what i would do, I would write it on an addendum, or I would contact my attorney to see what the best way to write it up would be. 



Aug 15, 2007 11:19 AM
Miriam Bernstei
Rochester, NY
Had a similar situation two years ago.  When I explained to the seller the problems that can occur with this they got angry at me as if I were interfering with them and their buyer.  Their attorney drew up a document obsolving them of any liability, the buyer says that if the seller didn't permit this he couldn't have bought the house and I became the bad guy.  Nothing happened, the buyer was grateful, the seller felt they had helped this nice young couple with the triplets and I was considered a problem.'s between the two of them.  They have removed you from the process.  Relax and hope for the best if they got along and managed to arrange this they will probably close without any problems.
Aug 15, 2007 11:32 AM
Bob Southard
Atlas Realty Service, LLC - Kennesaw, GA
e-Pro - Cobb, Cherokee, North Fulton
They did this against your advice.  Do your best to create a paper trail and hope everything works out for the best.  Remember, a closing cures a whole lot of things!
Aug 15, 2007 11:33 AM
Chuck Marunde
Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate - Sequim, WA
Sequim Real Estate Broker


Having been a real estate attorney advising agents for 20 years, here's my very brief response.  You do not control the buyers and the sellers, nor do you control what they may do outside the contract or your instructions.  Document everything you've done, emails, notes, telephone conversations, messages, and leave it alone.  You will not be liable if you've done your due diligence.  If the seller lets the buyer in the garage early, there is nothing you can do about, and nothing you should do about it above and beyond the wise counsel you have already given them.  Be careful about becoming their enemy by "telling" them what they can or cannot do, or demanding that they do or not do anything.  They are adults and responsible for their own behavior, which may or may not result in negative consequences.  Keep your detailed notes, and give everyone your smile and cheerful disposition, and stay on good terms with everyone.  By the way, good job on what you did.  If you ever need to look up some legal answers, you're welcome to visit one of my sites,, which is Washington State law, but many of the principles and recommendations are good.

Aug 15, 2007 11:49 AM
Debbie Arriero
Arriero Realty, Inc. - Bluffton, SC
30+ Years in Real Estate!
I recently had that happen with one of my listings.  The sellers were Spanish (I don't speak Spanish); my husband (co-associate) speaks Spanish.  The buyers that made an offer on the house were Spanish-speaking.  Needless to say, I was already out in the cold. As we're going along, Buyer's loan is denied; try another lender; Seller's have decided BEFORE the loan is denied, to go ahead and move into an apt; then, Seller's decide to let buyer move in - no lease and unbeknownest to us; Buyer's loan is denied again! Seller is sorta getting worried, but not too bad. Buyer tries another loan; now after about 8 wks of messing around, Buyer's in the house, we're trying to decide whether do to a demand letter or not, the Buyer finally gets their loan. And better late than never, we go to a successful closing.  I was clueless.  And sometimes it's better that way.  Good luck, August 20 is just 5 more days!
Aug 15, 2007 11:52 AM
Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman & Associates - Pickerington, OH

I agree with the others on just riding the wave and keeping track of your notes. 

Last deal I had the buyers had transferred all of the utilities almost 2 weeks ahead of closing.  Closing almost fell apart.  If it had, the sellers would have had to pay a fee for putting the utilities back in their name.

Come to think of it, that has happened twice now.

Aug 15, 2007 12:18 PM
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate
Nicki, I tell the seller when we list a home - no possession prior to closing - not even the garage.  We just had a buyer get very upset when we would not allow him possession prior to closing.  That was 3 weeks ago - we still haven't closed and he has now disappeared.
Aug 15, 2007 02:08 PM
Cheri Smith
Prudential Gary Greene, Cypress TX - Cypress, TX
Realtor Prudential Gary Greene

I would just stay out of it since you have already advised them. What more can you do? It was their decision to let the people move in their stuff. They will have to face the consequences when/if they occur. Just keep proof of where you have advised them against it. For future reference, type up your own document  that states you will not be held liable if the sellers let buyers move property in prior to closing and have your sellers sign it up front when you take the listing. Of course you would want to word it professionally and legally but you get the idea.

Aug 15, 2007 02:16 PM