Sorry, you can't store items in your new home before closing.

Real Estate Broker/Owner CA#01772851 HI#RB21268

When the time gets close to closing, buyers get all excited and often ask if they can put "just a few things" into the house they are buying.

Even though pretty much everything is negotiable in a transaction, that is one thing I tell my sellers not to allow.

What's the big deal, you ask?

First, I am a firm believer in that final walk through, where the buyer goes through the house just before it closes and accepts the property as the seller leaves it. 

At this point, the buyers will have signed the documents, their lender or the buyer will fund, escrow records the deed, and the buyer get the keys.

The buyer now owns the home.

But what if the seller let's the buyer "store" some stuff?

Picture this: the buyer and a buddy bring a couch into the house and one of them gets injured. Whose liability is it? Well, the seller's. The buyer is not insured yet, any insurance wouldn't start until after closing.

How about access? Does the agent of the buyer or seller let the buyer in with the stuff? Or will the seller give the buyer a key before closing?

I don't think so. Liability is the big concern again.

Lastly, what if there is a last minute hitch with the sale? Now the seller has personal items that belong to someone else in his house.

What is my standard answer?

If you need to get in early, you need to close early.



Posted by

Hella Rothwell at Carmel Beach during Concours WeekCarmel-by-the-Sea Beach and Pebble Beach Golf Course California

Whether buying or selling oceanfront, oceanview, commercial or any type of real estate in Carmel, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel Valley and Big Sur, I can help you. Call me and let's meet in my Carmel-by-the-Sea office in Su Vecino Court on Dolores between 5th & 6th.

Or we can just chat on the phone to discuss your real estate needs.

Are you out of the area? No problem, I often never even meet my clients. The whole transaction is handled long distance.

As an independent real estate broker licensed in California and Hawaii, I can represent you with residential real estate, commercial properties & investment opportunities.

For more information &


Member: National Association of REALTORS, California Association of REALTORS, Hawaii Association of REALTORS, Del Norte Association of REALTORS, Honolulu Board of REALTORS. Also MLS Listings in California.


Hella Mitschke Rothwell (R)

Real Estate Broker/Owner/Realtor®
Licensed in California #01772851 & Hawaii #RB-21268

Tel. 831-626-4000 

Fax 1-877-822-9332

ROTHWELL REALTY INC.: Su Vecino Court, Lincoln & Dolores between 5th & 6th, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921


MAILING: P.O. Box 4554, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921


Hella Rothwell's Facebook Page       Hella Rothwell's YouTube videos      REALTOR LOGO      Equal Housing Logo


Disclaimer: Hella Rothwell does not guarantee nor is in any way responsible for the accuracy of the information provided herein, and provides said information without warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied.


Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

I agree, Hella. Too many "What happens if" that could happen. 

Nov 26, 2017 07:00 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Kathy Streib - It seems like such a small courtesy, but the liability is too large.

Nov 30, 2017 04:19 AM
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

No good can come of early occupancy, even just if storing a few things, none at all. I agree with you 100%!

Nov 26, 2017 07:43 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Susan Haughton - This has come up way too often lately, but I'm glad my sellers held their ground. And buyers are eager to close, even early if possible.

Nov 30, 2017 04:21 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Fortunately, I don't asked this more than once every few years. Once I explain to people why it's not a good idea, they get it.

Nov 27, 2017 03:54 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Nina Hollander - This happens mostly when the closing is delayed for a few days for some reason and buyers are anxious to start moving.

Nov 30, 2017 04:23 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Broker
Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Every once in a while, a seller in Sacramento might allow storage in the garage of a vacant house, but that's rare. I'm with you on this, if you want in early, close early. My main reason is the time for the buyer to realize she made a mistake is after the closing, when it's too late to do anything about it, not before, LOL.

Nov 27, 2017 07:56 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents - Your last statement is also a consideration. Once they have unlimited access pre-closing, items come up that are questioned.

Nov 30, 2017 04:26 AM
Jim Smith
The Property Management Company - Round Rock, TX

As a Property Manager, we get asked this often.  The answer is always a simple and firm NO.  When someone has access to a property prior tom their legal possession, all kinds of liability issues present themselves.  All you need to do is be involved with just one law suit involving the parties and insurance companies to understand why the answer is always NO!

Nov 28, 2017 06:51 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Jim Smith - Liability should be the first consideration, hands down. This would be especially important in property management, I would imagine.

Nov 30, 2017 04:28 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Hella, I used to get this question many years ago, gratefully not in the last few years:) and I agree that is my answer too, close early:)Endre

Nov 29, 2017 06:53 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Endre Barath, Jr. - This has come up more frequently with buyers who just sold their home and turned around and bought one. And the one they bought is vacant.

Nov 30, 2017 04:30 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Dec 02, 2017 07:12 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Thank you so much for including my blog, Kathy Streib . I do believe it's important for buyers to know WHY this is not ok with sellers to store items before closing. They are not trying to be mean, there can be real consequences.

Dec 05, 2017 09:33 AM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Oh the liability...dual to just say NO !

Dec 03, 2017 01:43 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Sally K. & David L. Hanson - Unless you officially RENT the place and all that this entails, it's just not worth the liability.

Dec 05, 2017 09:35 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

definitely!  I like your line  - If you need to get in early, you need to close early.

Dec 03, 2017 04:12 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Lise Howe - This really came up again with me when the buyer kept changing the date of closing because of something with the home that they were selling and we are supposed to have a simultaneous closing. So I had to protect my seller because, who knows, things might still fall apart at their end and then we need to unravel all their stuff in the my listing if I had to put it back on the market.

Dec 05, 2017 09:38 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® ,

I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-ha" moments for the week! Somehow I missed it and my philosophy is the same. ..very simple rule: If you need to get in early, you need to close early.

Dec 03, 2017 07:09 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Dorie Dillard - This goes right along with not giving out keys early to the buyer because you KNOW they will start moving in some of their stuff.

Dec 05, 2017 09:40 AM
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing Frye Realty - Naples, FL
Naples Golf Guy | Find Your Dream Lifestyle

Hella, I totally agree with your view.  One of the reasons clients should use a realtor is to protect them from mistakes they may not even be aware they might make.  This is a perfect example.

Dec 03, 2017 07:15 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Matthew Klinowski - We do need to protect our clients even if they don't see "what's the harm" in having just a few little items over early. No, no...

Dec 05, 2017 09:42 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I can see why Kathy chose to highlight your post this week!

Dec 03, 2017 07:23 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Kristin Johnston - REALTOR® - This is such a common request, even giving out keys early to "measure" for furniture, etc. No way.

Dec 05, 2017 09:44 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Hella

I came back to read this as it's such an important topica, but was curiouse about the opinions of others.


Dec 03, 2017 07:55 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Jeff Dowler - We seem to generally agree on this.

Dec 05, 2017 09:44 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I'm with you on this one.  And what if the house burns down or gets robbed?  The sellers home owner's insurance isn't covering the buyer's items.

Dec 03, 2017 08:33 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Chris Ann Cleland - Mostly it's a liability issue, but what if the escrow falls through at the last minute? And the former buyers are slow to take stuff out, or not at all? Probably is minor consideration but, still, would you handle their stuff? You'd probably need to find storage for it.

Dec 05, 2017 09:47 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Boy have I heard that request thousands of times. I've even had agents do it anyway after I explicitly told them no Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® 

Dec 04, 2017 08:59 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Paula McDonald - Yes, I actually saw it happen with none of the agents the wiser. And that's "trespassing".

Dec 05, 2017 09:48 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Many buyers ask this question and the answer is too much risk for all concerned. Hope you had a very Merry Christmas.

Dec 26, 2017 08:32 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Debbie Reynolds - Best answer in the world. No one wants to take on the risks.

Feb 02, 2018 11:29 PM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

on the rarest of occassions I've said I thought a seller should.  One such case was where buyer was ready to close and seller hit a title snag.  But we didn't get them move things in without a formal written agreement being in place addressing the issue.

Jan 26, 2018 09:49 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Tammy Lankford, if it's the seller's fault, well, maybe there could a case be made for it. could just get ugly and we don't want that. Better to just say "no".

Feb 02, 2018 11:28 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Hi Hella! I'm so with you on this! I get asked this quite often and the liability explanations are exactly what I give them and they do 'get it!' It's not something I ever want to have a seller experience.

Jan 29, 2018 06:52 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Debe Maxwell, CRS - And buyers do beg like if they bought a new couch or whatever and they don't want to move it twice.

Feb 02, 2018 11:27 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

This is an ongoing issue that keeps popping up like a whack a mole  - and you gave just the right answer!  Have a great day! 

Jan 30, 2018 04:55 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Lise Howe, wouldn't do it any other way unless there was a major reason that I haven't heard of yet.

Feb 02, 2018 11:26 PM
Debbie Laity
CinaJones Real Estate - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County

I like your standard answer. I recently advised a seller not to do this with the buyers. She got burned big time on the utility bills. The seller wasn't living in the house. The buyers really turned up the heat and didn't turn it off when they left. I had also been there to check on the house and had to turn off lights. 

Feb 02, 2018 05:40 PM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®

Debbie Laity - That's quite a problem, some sellers turn the electricity off before closing but not all the time. Ouch.

Feb 02, 2018 11:24 PM