Something that makes for a bad day in real estate for me and other agents is the buyer’s agent calling during the pre-closing walk-through of a home I have listed and saying to the effect: “Um, it doesn’t look like the seller is moving.” What? “They haven’t packed. It doesn’t look like they plan to leave.”
It’s two hours before the closing of the sale. The sellers haven’t packed. Haven’t packed? How? Why? Crazy as this sounds, it happens all too often. My personal experience includes, on the day of closing, sellers frantically giving me groceries from their fridge; a seller giving me a hermit crab he was going to throw away (what else can I do with it, he asks); one couple had to hire an emergency “haul away” company to load up a full flatbed truck of things they ran out of time to pack–Waterford crystal and an Art Deco sideboard among the items. Just hauled off to the junk store. After the closing had occurred. (The same sellers stopped to make some coffee right in the middle of the chaos, meaning of course that the coffee maker wasn’t packed). Meanwhile, the buyers’ movers were on their way and we were going to end up with two households in one, a very messy situation. In all of these cases I had spoken with the sellers each day leading up to the closing asking what they needed. Each time “everything was fine”.
Certainly these are extreme cases, but ask any real estate agent if they’ve had the same or similar and you’ll get a resounding “yes”. The most typical situation is that the seller isn’t quite done yet…a few things here and there still waiting to be moved, just enough to hamper the buyer moving in and maybe really irritating them. So why does this happen? “They’re stubborn!” “They’re selfish!” are likely conclusions at the emotional peak of the moment. But, back up a little and maybe the sellers just didn’t plan well. Back up further and maybe the sellers flat out didn’t know how to move, not only how long it takes, but the logistics of packing and getting out. And they’re often too embarrassed to ask for help.
So, if you, or someone you know, might fall into the above category, here are a few tips to help you out:
Start immediately. The moment you realize you plan to move, start the moving process.
Reduce. Get rid of everything you don’t plan to take with you. One great advantage of this is the task of moving becomes less overwhelming.
Make a “room list” and include what needs to be done in each room. Give extra time for kitchens and garages.
Start packing. Is it summertime? Pack up your winter clothes and toys. Do you have heirloom china you love but never use? Pack it up. And label it!
Google “how to pack and move”; there are hundreds of resources on line. WikiHow offers a pretty comprehensive run-down of the process (link below).
Hire people who specialize in packing…not movers, but packers. Believe it or not, there are people who actually like to pack! (There are people who love ironing, too: I’m in awe!)
Be obsessive about time and cost. You really can’t over prepare for a residential move, especially if it has been years since your last move.
ASK FOR HELP! Friends love to help friends…before an emergency.
There is an unpleasant reality that can come into play if you are not out of the house on time. The moment the new deed is recorded, you no longer own the home, the buyers do. They can legally change the locks or deny you entrance into the home. You are in real danger of losing your possessions or at least getting into a very nasty battle. Just don’t go there. Move in time. Your agent has a lot of resources; use them. Enlist the support of others.
Regardless of how you do it, if your closing is today,
GET OUT YESTERDAY!