The quick answer is, “ideally no!”
But if you want that house, you may have to be flexible and use it as part of your negotiations tactics. It’s always good to put yourself in the seller’s shoes, particularly sellers who are trying to balance selling their existing home while using the proceeds to buy their new home. A few years down the road, you may be in the same position yourself. However, you need to understand the implications and risks of letting the seller stay post closing.
Nine times out of ten, the seller will have moved out of their Seattle home before closing. This is the day, the title is transferred to the buyer and they now legally own the home and can start moving their worldly goods in the front door. The seller will have their prized furniture either in a moving van, already moved to their new home, donated it all to Goodwill or left it on the side of the road with a giant FREE sign and joined a commune in the mountains.
If the sellers need to sell their existing home and use the proceeds towards the purchase of their next home, they will probably want to guarantee that the sale of their first home closes before committing to buying the new home. Sellers in this situation will make an offer on the new home contingent on the sale of their existing one. As an old Scottish golfer once said “there’s plenty a slip ‘tween cup and lip” so the seller will want wait until their existing home closes before they started loading up the moving truck. Therefore the sellers might request, as part of their counter offer, that they be allowed to stay in the home for a few days after closing to give them time to move out.
The pros and cons of letting the seller stay post closing
There are a number of things to take into consideration when the sellers request that they stay in their home after closing.
- Legally, you were approved for the mortgage based on the condition that you would be living there (owner occupied), not renting it out.
- In the event that something happens to the home, for example, it burns down due to seller negligence, will your insurance cover you? Your insurance is probably based on the assumption that you will be living in the home.
- Do you charge the sellers a rental fee or let them stay for free?
- How will those extra few days affect your own moving plans? If you are moving out of a rental, in general, you have to be out on the last day of the month. If closing is on the May 31st and the seller wants to stay until the June 3rd, where are you going to live and store all your furniture? If you are in your landlord’s good books, ask him or her if you can stay for an extra couple of days. Of course, now you are paying both rent AND a mortgage!
If you do agree to let the sellers stay after closing, here’s what you should do.
- The conditions of the rental period must be clearly stated in the contract and agreed to by both parties.
- The sellers must sign a lease agreement, even if they are only staying for one day. You need to cover your butt and protect your new asset. Yes indeed, you have now become a landlord, the very people you were fleeing when you decided to buy a home.
- Regarding charging a fee to stay in the home. My suggestion is that if you need to to make your offer more competitive, let them stay for free for 2 days. For 3 days or more charge them a daily rate of whatever your daily mortgage, tax and insurance payments combined is. If the sellers baulk at paying to stay in the home, remind them that is is not their home anymore and that they are now renters. Be fair but firm.
- Contact your insurance company to see if you are covered for any seller related damages
- Collect a security deposit from the sellers.
- In addition to the walk through you do before signing / closing, do another walk through of your new home BEFORE the sellers have moved out to make sure it is in the sale condition. Once you get the keys, go back and take another look. If all is fine, return the deposit to the sellers.
As you can see there are pros and cons to letting the sellers stay after closing but you can take steps to reduce the risks associated with becoming a short term landlord.