When can you actually take possession of a home?

If you watch real estate shows on television, you may get the wrong idea about when you actually own a home. On the shows, the couple will make an offer, it will get accepted, and everyone will get very excited as if they are now homeowners.

But they’re not. You certainly don’t own a home just because your offer was accepted. This is just a preliminary step, and it was likely based on pre-approval for your mortgage. You still need to get final approval. You probably have to go through a home inspection as well as closing. So when do you actually take possession?

Check the possession date

The paperwork that is being used for the sale should include a possession date. In some cases, this is the same as the closing date. Once you go to closing and sign all the paperwork, the sellers give you the keys and then the house is yours.

However, there are other cases when the possession date could be far past the closing date. Some sellers will do this because they don’t want to move out right away – maybe because they’re waiting for their own new home to be ready or available for them to take possession. Others will stipulate that they have to find a new home to buy before you take possession. Still others might just put the date a few days past closing so that they can work out any final details before leaving.

You don’t want to make any assumptions about how the real estate process works. As you move toward buying or selling a house, make sure you understand exactly what legal steps are necessary.