Rethink: Possession Day

In real estate, there are tons of little things that we do simply because it’s the way we’ve always done it. As part of our Rethink blog series, we are second guessing these little things and suggesting better ways to move forward.

In this post, we rethink Possession Days.

Possession day. That fairytale day where things magically go as planned, the sun always shines, boxes move themselves and the neighbours stop by with cake to welcome you to the neighbourhood. Well, it doesn’t always follow that script.

There are so many factors that cause little wrinkles and/or big waves on possession day. The more we can eliminate these issues, the more we can make this day a lot more stress free for our clients.

We encounter a lot of challenges on possession days.

Often buyers have scheduled movers, utility hook ups and the delivery of their new appliances for the same day they get their keys.  However, standard time for legal possession and the exchange of keys is set for noon, sometimes later if there are any delays. Often, these deliveries are set for the morning and clients are anxiously waiting to access the home. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the lawyers to give the green light.

Also, buyers are excited to show off their new home and they often invite their family to tag along. They are excited to see the home for the first time and help with the move. There’s a lot things happening on moving day. Not only does the entourage add to the activity, but Mom and Dad’s lack of  familiarity with the current housing market won’t help either. As it’s been years since they bought their home, they will likely be a little taken back with the price tag and the amount of updates the home may need. Just one more source of stress for the new home owners.

As much as we try to protect our clients, we often walk into homes on possession day that aren’t as clean as we expect them to be. Also, sometimes items that were to be included in the sale have not been left behind. While we can contact the listing agent and help with arrangements to address these issues, having Mom, Dad, the movers and the cable guy all waiting to get into the home gives us very little time to act.

So, how do we address these issues? The best way is to create more time and shift that hollywood, fairytale moment away from the time of legal possession.

We are working with our clients to communicate the difference between Possession Day and Moving Day. We explain the importance of a one day possession buffer. Taking legal possession one day before they plan to move will create a much better, less stressful experience.

A typical possession for our clients may look like this:

Day before moving day: Once legal possession is approved by the lawyers, our team inspects the property without our clients. We ensure all items agreed to be included are at the home and that the home is left in proper condition. If we run into any issues, this gives our team time to shine and make arrangements to fix the problems. This allows many of the issues to be resolved before our clients (and Mom and Dad) see the home.

Evening before moving day: Call it a client walk through if you like, but we call it a Sound Check. This is where our clients meet us at the home, do a walk thru and officially get their keys. Perhaps we even toast to the occasion. We ask our clients to not invite any guests with them and to not make plans to move in that evening. It’s a stress free evening aimed at celebrating their purchase and being new home owners.

Moving Day: Clients have full access to the home all day and can book utility hookups, movers and deliveries all they want. There is no stress of waiting for the lawyers or worrying about delivery times. Just move, celebrate and enjoy their new home.

We are in the business of client service. Our goal as REALTORS® should be to create a great experience for our clients.

While we continue to discuss ways to ensure sellers leave their homes in good condition for it’s new owners, we have yet to find the perfect solution. While we are limited in how we can protect our clients against these situations, the least we can do is create ourselves some time to help resolve them when they happen.

About Brin Werrett

REALTOR® Royal LePage Regina Realty. I believe it should be about you, not me. Our clients are the rockstars. I'm just here to help. Leading the Real Estate Revolution one fan at a time.

2 Responses to “Rethink: Possession Day”

  1. Norm Fisher April 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm # Reply


    Loving the “rethink” series and looking forward to seeing what else you have goin’ on up there.


  2. Marc Kelly April 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm # Reply


    One reason I often see people looking for a specific possession date that matches moving day is the situation where people are selling their existing home, and buying a new one. Often, they anticipate a seemless transaction where the sale is going to result in a cheque being obtained in the morning, and that will pay for the property they are purchasing in the afternoon.

    In reality, the transactions don’t always work that way. There are a number of reasons that we may not have sale funds on the possession day. Trying to match purchases up like that can result in unwanted headaches.

    I would strongly suggest that clients get bridge financing for those transactions, and pick a possession date that fits for them, as you suggest above. Bridge financing will alleviate some last minute stress that can occur as the lawyers are trying to get your clients in their new home.

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