One of the most frequent questions we as Closing Attorneys are asked is "When will I get the keys to my new home?"
The answer, "When the closing is complete." But that may not mean what the Buyer thinks it means.
In the past, the Buyer and their Lender funded the closing ahead of time and the Buyer and Seller would come together at the Closing Attorney's office and sit across from each other and sign the closing documents. The attorney would verify everything and the seller would hand the keys over to the buyer.
Times have changed and so have closings. Now that we have the internet, email, and wire transfers readily available to all, the speed of transactions has increased, but it has also brought changes that delay the Buyer getting possession.
Let's start with the misconception that the minute the Buyer finishes signing their closing documents that the closing is complete. This is not the case. The contract usually has language that states that the seller is to deliver possession to Buyer upon closing, but signing does not complete the closing.
The closing process includes both the Buyer and Seller signing their documents, the Closing Attorney's swapping documents, and the Lender wiring the funds (or releasing the funds).
Often the Buyer and Seller now use separate Closing Attorneys and come in to sign at different times of the day. The Attorney's will not swap documents until both sides have confirmed that their clients have signed the closing documents.
Additionally, most lenders require proof of the signed documents to be provided before they will release the funds (or allow the Buyer's Closing Attorney to release the funds).
So, all that being said, once both sides have signed and the Buyer's Closing Attorney confirms that they have initiated the wire to the Seller's Closing Attorney (and provided proof), then the Buyer can get the keys to their new home and take possession.
The best piece of advice I can give about this is to make sure that you or your client is aware that there is a delay between signing and possession. The earlier in the day we get both parties signed, the sooner we can give the Buyers possession.
Finally, problems do occur that can sometimes delay closing, if you are truly seeking to move in on Friday, then I highly suggest setting your closing for Wednesday or Thursday of that week, so that even if a delay occurs, you are more than likely to get possession on Friday.
If you feel that this information may help you or a client, please reach out. It is my mission to help others.
Jeremiah L. McGuire