During MA real estate transactions, a buyer may ask permission from a seller to start moving some of their belongings to the property, usually into a garage or similar location. Likewise, a seller may ask to store some of their belongings beyond the closing. Typically, a storage agreement would be drafted for this arrangement. Before entering into such an agreement, both parties should consider the potential risks of storage agreements before closings in MA.
Why the Situation Arises
Home buyers often need to complete their move within a short time frame. If they have a home to sell, that closing may take place on the same day as their purchase. If they are renting, they may have a short window to move. Either way, storing some or all of their belongings at their soon-to-be new home can be extremely helpful.
The request may also go the opposite way, with a seller requesting to store items after closing. Perhaps they are buying another property but cannot close until they have proceeds from selling their existing home. Whatever the reasons and regardless of which party is requesting to store items, there are risks to both parties.
A knowledgeable buyer or seller working with an attorney will likely prepare a storage agreement. This agreement would permit one party to store their belongings in a designated location within a certain time frame. However, it often states that the other party accepts no responsibility over the safety/condition of those belongings while it is stored there. This is an understandable condition, but obviously something one should think about.
Security of Storage
People are generally aware when homes are marketed for sale. The storage of items in a location such as a garage could get the attention of people passing by. It could be an easy target for burglars, especially if the property is vacant for any period of time before the closing (even if just a couple of days). Items could end up damaged or missing.
Buyer & Seller Risks of Storage Agreements Before Closings in MA
Storage agreements before closings in MA typically only benefit the party making the request. The other party allows it to be nice. However, even with a signed storage agreement, there are some risks.
What happens if the closing does not go through as planned? Although rare, there are cases of last minute issues that prevent closings. If the home doesn’t close and a buyer already has their belongings on a property, what will happen to those items? There will likely be some language in the storage agreement that specifically addresses this. However, that doesn’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly. It could be a drawn out process if the buyer does not immediately make arrangements to remove their things.
If the closing does go through and it’s the seller who is storing items, what happens if the seller does not retrieve it within the designated time frame. The new homeowners may be stuck not being able to use the space for a period of time, which can be an annoyance. Again the storage agreement may address this, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.
In many cases, storage agreements work out fine and do not result in any issues. However, both buyers and sellers should be aware of and prepared for potential hiccups before entering into such agreements. Always consult with a real estate attorney to review any real estate related contracts in order to best protect your interests and minimize your liability.