Ten Ways to Win: #9 – How Flexible are your plans?

To understand “Win” #9 you must first understand a quirk about the Central Ohio Housing market.  In many states in the United States the law prohibits the Seller from having possession of the home after the closing is complete.  In Ohio we do NOT have this prohibition.  This prohibition of post-closing possession is rooted in good law, insurance practice, and common sense:  a myriad of problems can occur after closing and before the Seller turns over the keys.  What happens if that bed rail gashes the drywall on the way down the stairs?  What happens if close on Friday lightning strikes the roof on Saturday?  What is your recourse if the Seller spills a bucket of paint on the carpet on their way out?  Rare occurrences?  Yes, but I’ve had them all happen between the closing date and the date the Buyer has possession of the home.


In Ohio, we call it “courtesy possession” and it is legal.   Better agents will put together a document called an “Occupancy After Transfer of Title” agreement which at least puts in writing the basics of responsibility during this time.  However, “life” happens and, as a Buyer, you need to be prepared for damage or surprises in your home while the Seller is still living there.  There is a simple solution: write the contract to demand the Seller turn over the keys at closing.


Sounds simple? It is, unless you’re competing with multiple other buyers for the same home.  In this very common occurrence, your ability to give the Seller the home for whatever length of time they need after closing can be key to you “winning” the bidding war.  For your consideration: are you intellectually and temperamentally OK with taking that risk?  If not, your Realtor should not push you to do so.  However, know that NOT allowing this possession may cost you the house.


If you are flexible on possession, what protections can be put in place?  First of all, the agreement cannot be “open ended.” There has to be a date and time at which you can move into your home and, if you have purchased the home with a mortgage, your lender will require you move in within 60 days.   Insist on an Occupancy After Transfer of Title Agreement even if post-closing possession is a weekend.  This agreement lays out the basic tenants of the Seller’s occupancy of your home, sort of like a mini lease agreement.  Ask for proof of “renter’s insurance” to cover the Seller’s belongings while they are living in your home.


Does the Seller pay for this time in the home?  It depends.  If another bidder on the home has given them extended possession at no charge you might get beat out if you ask for “rent” during the time they are staying in the home.  However, many homeowners are willing to pay you for the convenience of staying in the home.  A good Buyer’s Agent can advise you.


In reality, Sellers tend to move out of the home the same way they lived in it.  Did it show “pride of ownership” when you looked at the home? The homeowners will very likely move out and leave you a pristine home: so, the same ‘pride’ guides their moving out.  This flexibility can be the deciding factor to allow you to “win” in a very competitive market.



This blog is written by Kathy Chiero.  Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors.  Thinking of Buying or Selling?  Find us www.OurOhioHome.com © 2021 All rights reserved.