Your house finally sold -- now comes the packing and moving stage. You can usually negotiate the terms of your move-out date as part of your sales contract, but at minimum, be prepared to have your house vacated by your closing date when you hand over keys and officially transfer ownership to your buyers.
Time Your Move
It can be tough to time your move exactly, especially if you're buying a new house and waiting for it to close, or making arrangements to live in a new city. After an offer is made and accepted, it typically takes about 30 days to close or finalize the transaction. Use this date as your benchmark for planning how to get your items out of your house. If necessary, look into short-term storage and short-term housing options if there's going to be a significant amount of time between when you close on one property and move into another.
Packing and moving an entire house can be a stressful endeavor. Plan in advance for how you want to handle it. If you're downsizing, make arrangements to sell or donate items you don't want to keep, and store items that will go into your new living quarters. If you're upsizing and buying new furniture, ask furniture retailers to hold your items for delivery until you're officially in your new digs. Think about renting a dumpster or a moving van in advance of closing so you aren't rushing at the last minute to get your things packed and moved.
If you're selling a house and buying a new one, or making a major move and need some flexibility on your move-out date, talk to your buyers about a rent-back option. This essentially means that even though you close the sale of your house, and new people own it, you pay to rent it back from the new owners for a specified period of time. The amount of rent might be negotiable, but it usually must be enough to cover the new owner’s mortgage payment.
If you need more time to vacate your house, you might be able to negotiate a deal with the new buyers or make arrangements to push back your closing date to give you more time. Keep in mind that once ownership is transferred, you're in a murky area. If you leave personal property in the home, and you aren't working with a reasonable buyer, the buyer could claim the property is abandoned and keep your stuff. You’re better off making arrangements to be fully out of your place before closing.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.