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Closing Day Etiquette

Getting the keys on closing day

Congratulations on the sale of your home! Now that the sale part is over you can prepare for the move and closing day. I have represented clients on both sides of closing (Buyer and Seller) and am very happy to pass along some great advice to Sellers to help alleviate some issues around closing day.

[1] Final Walk through

As the closing day approaches, the Buyer usually (if included in the agreement) will go for a final walk-through of the property. The purpose of the final walk-through is to make sure the property is still in good order, but also a chance for the Buyer to take some extra measurements and pick paint colors and just get excited about their new home.

Of course moving is an exhausting endeavor and chances are the Buyer will request the final walk-through at the MOST inconvenient time possible. Try not worry about it, the Buyer knows you are moving, and they WANT you to move, so it is perfectly reasonable for you to have boxes and have an unorganized house at the time of the final walk through. Trust me, they will be very happy to see you packing and getting ready for the move.

Try and not leave out items that will be alarming to the Buyer or can be misinterpreted. I had a final walk through where the Seller left an insulated fan vent in the middle of the basement floor.

 insulated fan vent left out at final walk-through

The Buyer immediately felt uneasy as to where this came from and why it was there and what was replaced and how come. It made the Buyer worried that there was potential issues and also left them wondering what else had been replaced/changed without their knowledge. Unbeknownst to us, the Seller was in the construction business and this venting was from a completely different house. Buying/Selling a house is stressful and is best if undue worry can be easily avoided.

[2] Cancel Contracts and Services to the Sold property

Cancel any alarm system, any maintenance contracts (furnace, lawn, snow, etc..) as well as informing the utility companies (Hydro, Gas, Water, Telephone/Internet, etc ..) before closing day. Remember to still have the house insured on closing day as both Buyer and Seller will own that property at some point during that day.

[3] No Change Outs

Remember that you cannot change out any of the appliances, bathroom mirrors or anything included with the sale of your property that is listed in the agreement. Usually anything that is screwed to the wall is considered a fixture and stays with the property. You do not want to get a letter from a lawyer looking for to replace a $5 towel rack missing under the sink… it happens!! If in doubt, check with the Buyer before removing anything affixed to the walls.

Sometimes an included Chattel ex: dishwasher, may break before or even on the closing day. Before closing, the Seller is responsible for replacement/repair and communication with the Buyer is highly recommended.

[4] Clean The Property

One of my life mantras is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Sellers should endeavor as best they can, to leave the property in a condition that they, as a buyer would be happy with. More specifically, clean the property before leaving!. You can have it professionally cleaned, enlist the help of friends, or take it upon yourself, but it is honestly the right thing to do!

Clean the property before closing day

Clients of mine recently closed on a property and they were utterly shocked at how the Sellers left the property for them. There was broken glass on the porch, leftover food in the fridge and freezer, everything was dirty and not to mention tons of stuff left in the property from dirty pillows, extra linens, broken suit case to 15+ cases of empty beer cases.

Level of cleanliness can be subjective but overall you want to leave the property not filthy and in state that the Buyers will feel good about walking into their new home.

I have seen some Sellers leaving a congratulating note to the new buyers and wishing them well in their new home, even some have left a nice gesture of a celebratory bottle of wine.

Ideally you want the Buyer to be happy on Closing Day and not feel jilted or disappointed.

[5] Remove All Personal Items

Sellers are required to remove ALL personal items and leave the property empty save for the items identified in the agreement. If you leave personal property (including garbage), the Buyer is within their rights to commission a removal company with the bill provided to the Seller.

Sometimes Sellers will want to leave extra flooring, tiles or even paint cans for the Buyers. A good practice is to ask the Buyers if they want it first, other than assuming.

[6] Forward Your Mail

Forward mail before closing day

Don’t forget to forward your mail at the post office. Although not a big deal, it just makes things easier than trying to coordinate mail/package pickup.

Happy Closing Day to all!


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