Reader Question: I recently signed a contract to purchase a home under the agreement that I would allow the sellers 30 days to move out after the closing date. What should I do to protect myself financially against damage to the home in those 30 days? Also, can this be negotiated through the bank at closing? Walt M.
Monty’s Answer: Hello Walt, and thanks for your questions. Typically, the time to negotiate the contingency now being contemplating is during the overall contract negotiations. Normally, it would be reasonable to expect to receive rent during that 30-day period unless the rent after closing was a part of the bargain. After all, your mortgage payment will be accruing during the time that your use the property is restricted. A typical rent calculation would consist of the interest and principal payment plus the real estate taxes and insurance cost prorated on a daily basis. Check with your insurance agent as well to learn their policy about what happens if the home burns down during the seller’s occupancy period.
Guarantees are a good thing
An escrow for a negotiated amount of money to guarantee delivery of the property is prudent to protect you financially. It should be enough money to cover the costs incurred if the seller did not deliver occupancy as they agreed to do. For example, what if the movers arrive on the day the seller was to vacate, and they are still in the house? Money has been spent for the move, and now your furniture is sitting on a truck. Moving companies charge for tying up a truck they could be using to generate revenue, to say nothing of your hotel and restaurant charges.
An escrow to guarantee the condition is a deterrent to a completely different situation occurring. What if the tile floor in the kitchen has a huge, 3 foot long scratch deep in the tile that was not there when you inspected the home before closing? Moving heavy appliances and furniture can and does create damage issues in situations like this. There is a greater chance of this happening if the seller is a do-it-yourself mover. In deciding how much is enough, the condition, age and size of the home should be factored in the equation. There should be enough money in escrow to encourage the seller to make certain nothing goes wrong while they are living in the home, or when they are moving out. Consider adding a definition of what “broom clean” means in actuality, and the consequences if it is not broom clean. It is not uncommon to be disappointed with the condition in which the home is left.
The begging close
It is unclear what leverage you have to gain an amendment to the contract of sale in attempting to insert these additional conditions after a contract is in place. If you have some sort of “out”, or you can find one, it would be helpful in a negotiation. Your attorney may be able to find one if it is not apparent to you.
Is there a reason that this negotiation did not happen earlier? Is there a reason for the desire to add this change in the agreement now? Is there a real estate agent? There is limited information here that inhibits specific advice. If there were an agent that did not bring up rent and escrows earlier, I would certainly be talking with the agent. It is possible the agent could have some liability, and an obligation to make this situation their problem.
If you have no agent and you did this on your own, then I would recommend you seek legal counsel for suggestions on how to proceed after you have begged the seller for mercy.
Wait. There’s more!
Another option is to keep your fingers crossed that the sellers are quality people, move out on time and leave the home in the same condition it was in during the walk through inspection. Please remember to take photographs of the property on your walkthrough. If things do not go as promised or there is damage it can be taken up with an attorney at that time, or simply decide to eat the consequences.
The bank is not a party to the contract. It is unlikely they can help rectify this issue.