How frequently does a settlement date (for a property sale) get postponed?
March 30, 2011 12:02 AM   Subscribe

How common is it for settlement (on a house purchase) to be delayed?

We are buying a house. There is no real reason to expect that settlement won't be smooth. We are all approved for our finance; our lawyer and broker say the date will be fine. The vendor's bank is the only uncertainty from our point of view.

But I basically have two choices when booking things like removalists, power/phone/internet, end of lease cleaning etc:

1. assume that settlement will most likely go through on the planned day. Book things accordingly. Risk losing a few hundred dollars if it doesn't.

2. assume that settlement will most likely be delayed. Book things accordingly. Lose a similar amount of money (due to rebookings and/or paying extra unnecessary rent, etc) if it is on time.

Basically, should I bet for or against an on-time settlement? Neither scenario is going to bankrupt me, but I'd like to know the most likely outcome.

Reading around on the internet I find lots of horror stories about settlement dates not working out, but it's hard to tell if that's just because people tend to write more about things that go wrong than things that go right.

Does anyone have any hard data on how frequently settlements get delayed? Or soft anecdata about their own? (Especially people who have bought and sold multiple properties, or know a lot of other people who have.)

And when settlements get delayed, is it usually just by a couple of days, or by weeks?
posted by lollusc to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Are there tenants in the place you're moving into? Have they agreed to move out?

I've heard of tenants simply not leaving, and waiting for the Tribunal orders to vacate (about a month, in NSW).
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:22 AM on March 30, 2011

My experience with settlements being delayed is that it normally happens when there is an issue with the buyer's finance getting approved. I've also heard of it getting delayed for niggly things, like not having keys for all the windows or the new owner not having the code for the security alarm. If things like this aren't sorted pre-settlement, in Australia anyway, you're stuck with the house as is so it's worth making sure everything's perfect. Hence the occasional delay.
posted by Jubey at 1:09 AM on March 30, 2011

Response by poster: No tenants. The place is empty. Vendor has already moved out too.

Thanks Jubey. Our lawyer also said that delays are usually because of the buyer's finance, which won't be an issue here.
posted by lollusc at 1:21 AM on March 30, 2011

Ours has been delayed due to FHOG taking longer to process than it should... Not sure if you're a first home owner or eligible for the grant but bear it in mind if you are.

We have told our landlord and the electricity company a two-week time frame that we will be moving in, to be confirmed closer to the date. This is also apparently normal practice for movers and any tradesmen you might use.
posted by indienial at 3:00 AM on March 30, 2011

Best answer: I have been doing residential real estate work for upwards of fifteen years now, from all sides of the transaction (representing the buyer, the seller and the bank), in the US (specifically, New York State)

The vast majority of closings have occurred on or before the date in the contract (or on or before the mortgage commitment expires). If it doesn't, it's usually because:

1. The purchasers haven't gotten the necessary paperwork to the bank in time;
2. The bank's attorney has fallen asleep at the switch and forgotten to provide necessary paperwork to the bank;
3. The title commitment (a search done that shows that the property is free and clear of liens and all that) shows a *lot* of problems that need to get resolved;
4. The purchasers find something amiss during their final walkthrough.

But, like I said, the vast majority of the closings I've done have happened on time.
posted by Lucinda at 4:41 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've bought, sold and refinanced homes in FL, VA and PA - all of them occurred on the appointment date. Only the last purchase cut it close - we had to wait for our bank to wire the money so the sellers could get their check. No financing issues, just the bank being slow.
posted by jshort at 6:04 AM on March 30, 2011

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