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What is a post settlement occupancy agreement?

Nov 2, 2021Buying Basics, First-Time Home Buyers, Homebuying Process, Market Trends, Real Estate Tips

A post settlement occupancy agreement happens when sellers and buyers agree to allow the seller to stay in the house after settlement. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, sellers need to stay in a home to finish out the school year. Other times they may need to stay in the house for a few weeks while waiting for their next home to be built or vacated. Whatever the situation, it’s important to know this agreement is mutual and is part of the contractual agreement.

For sellers, this scenario can be a great relief making the move less stressful. For buyers, the post settlement occupancy can give them an advantage over other buyers in a competitive situation.

Here are the rules for the post settlement occupancy agreement.

  • The homebuyer is not a landlord in a post settlement occupancy agreement. Most post-occupancy agreements can be no longer than 60 days. Reminder: The seller is not a tenant and the buyer (new homeowner) is not a landlord.
  • The agreement has an occupancy deadline and occupancy charge. The charge typically covers the cost of PITI (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) This money is deducted from the Seller’s proceeds at settlement.
  • A security deposit is provided by the seller – The security deposit is held in a non-interest bearing account by the settlement attorney. At the end of the agreed upon time, the buyer walks through the property to verify the condition. The seller should leave the property vacant, clear of trash and debris, broom clean and in the condition required under the terms of the Post settlement occupancy addendum.
  • The Seller agrees to allow the Buyer into the property – This works best when both sellers and buyers respect each others schedule and space. In a perfect world, the sellers and buyers get along and agree to allow access to the property for reasonable requests. Reasonable is the key word here! If you have buyers who want access to the property and the sellers don’t want to let them in-you’ve got a problem! The sellers have a right to their privacy. The buyers have a right to access their property during reasonable hours of the day as long as they give the sellers prior notice. Keeping this balance can be a challenge.

Before entering into a post settlement occupancy agreement, ask yourself the following questions

  • Are you planning to bring contractors into your new home to get estimates for work during the post settlement occupancy? – Once or twice may be fine but more than that may disrupt the seller’s privacy. If the work can wait, then wait until the post-occupancy agreement time is over.
  • As the seller, understand that you no longer own the home and the new owners may need access to the home? – Yes, you have a right to your privacy but you also have signed an agreement saying the new owners can access the property to examine, maintain, repair and/or protect the property from damage.
  • Buyer or Seller- can you keep your emotions in check? – Buying and selling a home can be a stressful time. Emotions are high since the seller is leaving their home and the buyer is hoping to coordinate their move and prepare their new home. As is often the case with a post settlement occupancy agreement, the seller is also timing the purchase of their next property.

Lots of moving parts in the post settlement occupancy scenario! Take a breath, be compassionate and consider the other parties’ feelings and situation. Buyers and Sellers can move confidently ahead and work together toward an amicable end to the post settlement occupancy agreement.

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Be sure to choose an Exclusive Buyer Agent to help you through all of the intricacies of buying a home. Find an agent here.

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Victoria Ray Henderson is a NAEBA member, a licensed Realtor & Exclusive Buyer Broker in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC with The Buyer Brokerage and HomesBuyHendersons. Victoria is also the host and producer of our Listen Up Home Buyers podcast.
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