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What protects home buyers from a seller who won’t leave?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2024 | Real Estate Law |

Buying real property in New Jersey requires a lot of planning, especially if people want to use the home to serve as their primary residence. There may be repairs or modifications to make, as well as moving plans to solidify.

Home buyers need to time things carefully so that they don’t incur too many unnecessary expenses while they transition from one living arrangement to another. It can often take a month or longer after a seller accepts someone’s offer to actually close on the transaction. Depending on the terms set during negotiations, the seller might potentially retain possession of the home for several weeks after the closing.

Buyers sometimes show up to move in, only to discover the home is not yet vacant. What happens if the seller doesn’t move out by the agreed-upon possession date?

Buyers can protect themselves

Those planning to buy real property in New Jersey typically integrate protective terms into their offers. For example, they include contingencies that allow them to cancel the closing in specific circumstances. They also set a specific possession date so they can plan their move.

If there is any question about the seller’s timeline for moving out of the property, buyers may also propose terms for a post-closing occupancy agreement. This is essentially a rental arrangement where the seller pays a per diem fee to remain in the home after the closing. The buyers can therefore recover any expenses they might incur if the seller does not leave on time. They can include those per diem costs in any legal action they need to take against the seller.

If the per diem rate is high enough, the seller may have extra incentive to leave the property as soon as possible. Sometimes, possibly because of the lack of a post-closing occupancy agreement, sellers stay with little consideration for how their choice inconveniences the party buying their home. In these situations, buyers might need to actually evict a seller if they refuse to leave the property at the scheduled time.

Buyers who understand the risks inherent in real estate transactions may have an easier time protecting their interests. Including the right terms in real estate offers and enforcing contractual agreements can take some of the risk out of buying real property in New Jersey.

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