It’s a good question and in most cases (notice: there are always exceptions) the seller is responsible for maintaining the property until the closing. In fact the Cincinnati Board of Realtors purchase contract most area agents use clearly states “..the seller is responsible for maintenance until physical possession is delivered to the buyer…”
So until the seller actually vacates the property taking care of things in and around the house remains their responsibility…..assuming the buyers actually get the keys at closing Problems pop up when contract negotiations allow the sellers to delay the moving out so many days after closing and something happens during the “transitional time frame”. At closing buyers have to provide proof of insurance because lenders want to be protected. In short, the buyer has purchased insurance covering the structure/land even though the sellers may be staying the house for a few days after closing. Prior to closing, sellers, who aren’t moving out immediately, need to contact their insurance company in order to secure adequate coverage for their possessions- something we refer to as “renter’s insurance”.
In normal circumstances nothing ever happens and the sellers move out so many days after closing and everybody is happy. But this is Cincinnati and if you wait a minute the weather changes and the chance for storm damage increases exponentially. Picture this- buyer and seller shook hands at the closing table 2 days ago. The seller is moving out in 7 days and today during a storm, the house was struck by lightning…. and to add to the drama the neighbor’s tree fell over onto your roof. The lightning strike blew out all the major electric appliances, including your fridge, dishwasher and hot tub. The seller’s tv, surround sound, washer,dryer and all their computers were also damaged.
Don’t laugh because this actually happened a few years ago. The buyer’s home owner’s insurance covered damage to house and their appliances from lightning strike. “Renters insurance” covered the seller’s gear. Falling trees are in a category all their own- and every home owner should understand-if a tree lands on your property…it’s your problem. When purchasing insurance. buyers need to have a discussion with the vendor about tree, wind and water damage because repairs are often expensive and not always covered by standard home owner’s policies.
The best way to avoid misunderstandings about buyer and seller responsibility is to discuss your concerns with your agent. When it doubt spell out the details in writing and get signatures- it’s much easier to have “touchy” issues answered before Cincinnati weather or some other unknown strikes.