Will I get my keys at my real estate closing?

Wray Harrison, Attorney

The short answer to this common question is: “It depends.”  North Carolina law provides that a listing agent (the realtor for the seller) can refrain from delivering to the buyer the keys to the property until the conveyance deed has been recorded.  Whether the realtor holds the keys until recordation or delivers them at closing to the buyers is usually decided by that realtor’s brokerage firm as a company policy.

What does this mean?  Well, it usually means, the closing attorney gets a call next that goes like this:  “When will the deed be recorded?  We need to know! Buyer’s moving truck needs to be scheduled for arrival at the property tomorrow!”  This is a particularly difficult call to field, because even though at Harrison & Devins, P.A., we strive to get the deed recorded at the Register of Deeds at the earliest possible time, there are many variables at play that are not in the closing attorney’s control.  For example, before the deed is recorded, the closing office must, by law, receive the buyer’s certified loan funds (usually a wire) from the buyer’s lender.  Also, the buyer’s lender may require a review of documentation called “funding conditions” after all closing documents have been signed.  Sometimes even if the closing attorney sends the signed funding conditions to the lender immediately after closing, the lender may take an hour or two in the review process.  Also, many lenders have no control as to when their wires go out.  Both the funding conditions must be cleared and the wire received before the deed may be recorded.  These are only a few of the reasons why it is difficult for a closing attorney to pin down exactly what time the deed will be recorded.

So what can you do as a buyer or buyer’s agent to prevent this stress over keys?  Find out early from the listing agent what the policy is going to be on delivery of the keys.  If the keys are going to be held until the deed is recorded, a great deal of stress can be removed by scheduling the movers and other possessory activities of the buyer (like cable or utility setups) to all occur the next day.

Wray Harrison

Harrison & Devins, PA