When contracts are exchanged, the solicitors agree on a closing date (the day the buyers get the keys and the sellers get the money) in consultation with their clients.
If the buyer’s solicitor already has the funds from the buyers to complete the purchase, keys can be handed over the same day contracts are counter-signed by the sellers.
If the buyers need a mortgage, they must draw down the funds from their bank. This usually takes one to two weeks.
The sellers must clear out their personal belongings from the house being sold. Sometimes this is done before signing contracts, especially if it is a probate sale or if the sellers are in the fortunate position of already owning their new home. More often, this isn’t completed until contracts are signed. Where an investment property is being sold, the contract may specify that the sale is to include contents, in which case this isn’t an issue. A seller may need 2-4 weeks to complete this clear-out.
If the seller and/or the buyer is in a chain (where they have to sell one property before buying the other), then closing must be coordinated between multiple parties. Solicitors are very experienced at doing this.
Closing can be deferred longer in situations where the seller is waiting for a new build to be completed, where they are yet to buy their new home, or where they are moving to a distant location and need to coordinate their sale with changing jobs.
In certain cases, it is possible to negotiate for the sellers to stay on in the property after the sale has closed, either under a lease back or a caretaker agreement. This can happen when a developer is buying a property but will not start work on it until planning has been granted for the new development. It can also happen where a property is being bought by an investor or by a first-time buyer who is prepared to remain in their current accommodation for a specified period of time to facilitate the sellers.
If you are in a position where, as a seller, delayed closing is desirable, you should inform your agent so they can negotiate those terms for you and advise you if a buyer is willing to enter into that type of arrangement.
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