Tahoe home-selling tips: After escrow — the key transfer and more
Special to the Tribune
When a residential real estate transaction closes escrow, several things remain to be done. The biggest expectation of the buyer is receiving the keys. The seller is more concerned about the buyer transferring the utilities into their name. While it would seem that the escrow is closed and things would settle down, it isn’t always the case.
The keys and garage door openers are big on everybody’s list when it comes to closing. The seller doesn’t want them turned over too early in case something goes awry. The buyer wants them as soon as possible so they can begin cleaning and prepping the house for their occupancy.
If the buyers are in the house before the close and something happens, who is at fault? A friend helping with moving or cleaning gets injured, a faucet left on results in flooding, an unlocked door allows vandals access — it all exposes the seller to liability and risk of loss.
Northern Nevada is such a safe living environment that many homes continue to be left unlocked. It is amazing how many times we get to the close of escrow and the seller doesn’t have a front door key.
They have garage door openers to enter and exit, but they have long ago lost the front door keys. We recommend that buyers have the keys changed anyway so don’t fret in this situation — somebody call a locksmith.
Garage door openers can be overlooked at closing. In their rush to make sure everything is moved and cleaned, sellers often jump in their car and drive off as they have for years — closing the garage door with the remote.
Make a point of putting them on the checkoff list so neither party is inconvenienced by having to return or replace the openers. They sure help when you are going in and out so much while moving in.
Utilities, too, can get overlooked by one party or the other. Sellers need to cancel some of the services before the buyers can establish their service. In the frenzy of activity leading up to closing, this is one of those things that gets lost in the shuffle.
Sometimes sellers arrange to have them turned off and the closing date changes. Turning some utilities off can cause extra expense to the buyer when they reconnect.
Turning some utilities off at the wrong time of year can expose the home to the potential of damage — i.e. turning off the gas, thus turning off the heat, in the winter can lead to pipe breaks and flooding.
There are other details that the parties must coordinate to complete a smooth transition of ownership. The post office box key should be returned by the seller.
Satellite dish service and home security systems can have contracts needing agreement between the parties to accomplish a transfer and assumption for payment of service. Who has the warranty information for the new well pump, roof, etc.?
Our aAdvice: While the transfer of the keys to the proverbial castle should be the highlight of the buying experience, it often becomes one of many passing details that occur at the end of a real estate transaction.
To button everything up right, keep everybody safe from miscues and litigation as agents are often focused on the details of the escrow action. Keys, utilities, exchanging phone numbers in case you have questions, the name of the neighbor’s dog that comes over daily, and other details can be forgotten in the closing frenzy.
Ask questions along the way. Don’t expect the agent to remember these “soft” details that will make your transition smoother; they are looking out for others that can delay or even cancel the escrow. Work together to make sure that your closing and move are memorable in a positive way.
Remodeling, painting and carpet cleaning are often timed around the closing. It all adds to the emotion-laden air around a just-closed house, especially when there is a delay.
Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, work for RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in the Carson Valley. Visit http://www.carsonvalleyland.com or call 775-781-5472 for information.