I’ve Signed Everything, But Why Don’t I Have The Keys?

Note:  I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, radio or silent films.  I also did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Imagine you’re sitting at the closing table, spending an hour signing all of your loan documents and name affidavits and Deeds of No One Reads This Stuff. It’s easy to imagine that after all of that, you’d get the keys to your new home, right?

Not necessarily.

The contract I use reads (in section 18 if you’re interested) that “Possession of the Property shall be given at settlement, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the parties”.  Now, to me, the phrase Possession of the Property shall be given at settlement means that at the closing table, after everything’s been signed and we’re happy as clams, the Seller hands the Buyer the keys to their new home.  However, many attorneys in the New River Valley will tell you that in fact settlement means the moment when the deed and appropriate closing documents are recorded in the courthouse.

The vast majority of the time, the Seller will give you the keys there at the closing table.  In order to have actually gotten this far in the closing process we have to be assured that your funds to purchase the home have actually arrived at the attorney’s office, and so we know that everything’s a go and safe to close.  Sometimes, however (and this often occurs with the builders of new construction) we’ll have to wait until the Seller gets their proceeds before we’ll receive the keys.

So assume you’re buying a home in Blacksburg, or Christiansburg; how does “settlement” occur?  Once closing is done, the attorney (or someone else from their office) will drive to the Montgomery County courthouse to file the paperwork.  They’ll check it in with a clerk there at the courthouse, and they’ll notify the agents that settlement has occurred.  From there, the Seller will receive their proceeds check (assuming they have one waiting) from the closing attorney, and you’re NOW the proud owner of a beautiful 1970’s rambler.

Sometimes, the best things come to those who wait.  But who likes to wait?

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