Joe Richer: The ‘6 o’clock rule’ for keys is a myth
By Joe Richer, Special to the Star
I am finalizing the purchase details of a home. What time will I get the keys so that I can move in?
When you’re buying or selling a home, there’s a lot to think about before you take possession. With all the purchase details involved in completing a real estate transaction, people sometimes forget to consider the timing and costs of moving when they negotiate a closing date.
Every Agreement of Purchase and Sale specifies a closing date (or “completion date”), which is the day that ownership of the property will change hands.
As for the exact time you can move in, the “6 o’clock rule” for handing over the keys is a myth. The standard agreement form stipulates that the handover must happen no later than 6 p.m. on the closing date. But this clause, like many terms in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, is negotiable.
Luckily, your registered real estate agent has the knowledge and skills to ensure that the timing of the closing works for you. You should also advise your lawyer of the timeline you’ve got in mind since they usually complete the actual exchange of funds and keys.
So what factors should you consider when you choose a time and date?
If you are selling your current house you should consider how to coordinate the transactions. There are merits to both buying first and selling first. Your broker or agent can provide guidance.
Also be sure to confirm that you’ll be able to rent a truck or hire a mover for the appropriate period. The busiest time for moving is the end of the month, followed closely by the middle of the month, so avoiding those periods will make things easier, and could even save you money.
If you’re less concerned about moving costs but want to make the process easier, consider moving over two days —moving out of your current home one day, and into the new home a day or two later. In the meantime you would have to stay with friends or relatives, or at a hotel. You might have to pay extra for storage costs, but it avoids the rush of having to do everything in one day and, depending on the distance you are moving, this can give you peace of mind.
In addition, movers offer varying levels of service. For the right price they’ll even pack and unpack your belongings for you. But most importantly, be sure to ask friends for references and read online reviews of moving companies before you select someone to trust with your possessions. You should also consider getting insurance for damage or loss during the move.
Moving is a disruptive experience, and nobody likes packing their life into boxes. The added pressure of vacating one home and moving into another on the same day adds significant stress. Considering the transition when you negotiate the sale of your current home and the purchase of your new home can help reduce the stress of the one-day moving marathon. Your real estate professional can help you negotiate terms that best meet your needs.
First published in the Toronto Star on December 12, 2013
On the blog:
Key questions to ask when purchasing a home