The culmination of all the activities required to bring the parties to possession day, also known as completion day or closing day, is one of those great moments of accomplishment that never gets old. This should be the best of all days related to the transaction for both the seller and the buyer, as well as their REALTORS® because it is the one event to which the entire contract points. This too, like so many other parts of the listing and selling process, requires REALTOR® preparation and action to ensure a seamless closing for the parties. Let’s consider the best practices to make this the happy day it should be.
For the buyer, this is the day they have been anticipating. What started as wide-eyed wonder during the home search, moved to a compromise in negotiation, then a reality check in the conditional phase, but they removed their conditions and have been mentally placing furniture ever since. As a matter of principle, the best time to handle an objection is before the objection happens, which in this case means preparing the buyer for the closing process itself. Spending a few minutes explaining a few key things can go a long way to prevent stress or hard feelings on possession day.
First, be sure to explain to the buyer that the contract requires the seller to provide the property to them in substantially the same condition it was when they made the contract. This means the seller has no obligation to improve the property or especially clean it apart from what was agreed to in the contract itself.
Secondly, the property when it was viewed had soft music playing, lovely furnishings, the smell of fresh baking in the air, and the apple tree was heavy with beautiful ripe fruit. On closing day, the furniture will be gone, the walls bare, and the apple tree bare of fruit and possibly leaves as the season changes. Do a quick reality check with the buyer to ensure they understand it won’t look exactly as it did when they fell in love with it, which will help them prepare mentally.
Finally, the completion of the contract is said to happen legally at noon on the completion day, but in reality, that does not always line up perfectly. It is always best to prepare the buyers for the possibility of a late closing due to unforeseen issues, and not to have the moving crew, trades people, and cleaning company waiting outside at 11:59.
For the seller, this day has also been anticipated for a while but follows a different path. The seller often convinces themselves over a period of years that their home is the best and most valuable of all of its competition in the neighborhood until they speak with a REALTOR® who shows them the reality of the current market. Once convinced about the objective market data, they list their home and have a handful of buyers through it before an offer is received, to which offer price typically takes their breath away. After much negotiation, the seller accepts an offer and sits on pins and needles hoping the buyer removes their conditions, sometimes for weeks of pacing and sleepless nights. Once conditions are removed it's all hands-on deck to pack, hire movers, cancel services, change address, meet with the lawyer, etc., and with frazzled hair and frayed nerves, possession day finally arrives.
Here again, the seller needs to have clarity on what is expected and what they can expect. First, the seller should definitely not book the movers for the morning of possession day, but rather be totally moved out and cleaned up before the day itself.
Second, despite the contract stating the purchase price will be paid by noon on possession day, that doesn’t mean the lawyer will have a briefcase of cash waiting at the front desk for them. Many times it can take a day or so to finalize some of the closing processes even after the purchase price is paid. Finally, even though the condition of the property expects to be substantially in the same condition as the date the contract was accepted, a final tidy and clean is a lovely gift to give a buyer who is coming to live there.
Additionally, a handwritten note from the seller left on the counter for the buyer about things like the mailbox location, when the furnace filter was changed, or the box for the replacement fridge filter, etc. is one small thing to the seller, that is a big thing to the buyer.
Both the buyer’s and seller’s REALTORS® have been working tirelessly through the emotional ups and downs of the parties. When the transaction goes smoothly, it’s rarely because it happened by chance, but rather because of the constant management of expectations and situations behind the scene, so that to the client the process was wonderful. When possession day comes, the seller’s REALTOR® will usually be the first to know about the closing and has the unique privilege of informing a relieved seller, and an excited buyer’s agent that the keys are released. For the buyer’s REALTOR® this means meeting the happy buyers at the home for a quick photo and handing them the keys to their new home. The successful closing of a transaction is a team effort on both sides and one of the small things that can be done is a sincere thank you to the REALTOR® opposite for their professional work in the transaction.
The closing of the transaction for residential property is nearly always charged with emotion, and the effective management of that emotion is one of the many jobs of a REALTOR® for their clients and colleagues. But a successful closing should always prompt the reminder of the happy clients that REALTORS® operate referral-based businesses, and if they were pleased to share with their network of friends.
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: 403-209-3619