Lots of things can go wrong on closing day. If you’re careful and think ahead, you can avoid a lot of anxiety later. Sometimes, though, you have to go with the flow.
They only left us one key. The front door has two locks!
This happens more often than you think. Calling the sellers won’t help because they usually left the rest of the keys on the kitchen counter. The best option is to call a 24-hour locksmith and then send the bill to the sellers.
Lesson: Sellers must make sure they give their lawyer enough keys to provide access to the buyer after closing.
We walked in and the house smelled awful.
It is hard to sue for these kinds of issues, unless the seller did something to conceal the smell when the buyers were visiting the home in the first place.
Lesson: Be wary when you smell air freshener during an open house. Ask questions and make sure you have the home inspected.
The house is filthy, there’s junk in the garage, the mirrors are gone.
If the seller leaves any junk behind and you have to pay to remove anything or clean it, you can send the sellers the bill. When it comes to mirrors, it depends on whether they were permanently attached to the wall. If they are hanging on a hook, the seller can probably take them.
Lesson: Include a contract clause that says your seller will leave the home in a broom swept condition. Describe everything you expect to remain after closing day when you prepare your agreement in the first place.
Oops, we forgot to tell the lawyer.
We recently acted for the seller of a home and when we called the buyer’s lawyer on closing day and asked where the money was, he told us we were a week early. The buyer and seller had signed an amendment moving the closing date up one week, but the buyer hadn’t told his lawyer. My client agreed to a one-week extension, but the buyer had to pay the lost interest.
Lesson: Whenever a change is made to your contract, make sure that your lawyer knows about it right away.
Doesn’t everyone buy and sell on the same day?
That’s the problem. Let’s say A is buying from B; B is buying from C; C is buying from D and D is buying from E. If A can’t close for any reason, none of the other deals close either. Real estate lawyers call these train wrecks.
Lesson: Arrange bridge financing. This means you ask your bank to lend you all the money to close your home purchase and then you pay all or part of it back a day or two later when your sale closes. It is worth the interest for a few days to make sure that you close both deals without stress.
Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org