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I'm closing on my new home tomorrow but I don't get the keys...wait, what?


An agent came to me recently for help in explaining possession to their buyer client.  When their buyer made an offer, the seller asked for possession of the property for 7 days after closing.  The buyer accepted and moved toward closing.  Now that the buyer is ready to close, he is starting to question the possession issue.  Here were some of his questions:


  • Why doesn't the seller have to pay rent while they continue to live there?
  • How do I know the seller will leave the home in good condition?
  • What is my recourse if the seller damages the property?  Is there some type of a deposit in place to cover damages?

These are all very good questions.  To answer them, let’s start with a little history:

First, it is important to know that once a buyer closes on a home, they are paying their mortgage payment, taxes and insurance on the property even though they may not yet be living there.  As recently as 20 years ago, it was pretty normal in our area for sellers to maintain possession for 30 days after closing.  However, with the recession came many vacant and bank-owned sales where the buyer received immediate possession.  That market "killed" normal on many fronts including average possession time.  While there is no hard and fast rule, a buyer typically receives immediate possession on vacant homes, but in transactions where the seller is still in the home, it is "customary" to give them 7 to 10 days to get out without charging rent.  Any amount over 10 days usually includes the seller paying rent to reimburse the buyer for the costs they are incurring. 

Now that we've covered possession and rent, let's move on to liability and damages:

Most purchase contracts state that the seller will leave the house in broom-clean condition, remove all personal property and debris, and make any repairs/replacements necessary from any damage or neglect.  When the seller accepts the offer, they are contractually bound by it.  However, buyers must understand that the only real way to enforce a contract is in court.  If either party to a contract (buyer or seller) breaches the agreement, the other party must file suit and win a judgement to enforce the contract.  Even if a deposit is held to cover seller damages, if the seller does not agree with the buyer as to the release of the deposit, they would most likely have to go to court to settle the matter.

In the end, there are a lot of promises made in a purchase agreement and both parties are bound contractually to keep those promises.  It is important that you ask a lot of questions and work with your agent at every step to do your best to protect yourself against possible outcomes but there also has to be some level of trust that the other party will perform per the agreed terms.

Questions?  Call your RE/MAX agent today at 269-968-6101 for Battle Creek or 269-781-8966 in Marshall.

State of Michigan Unclaimed Property Website


"The Michigan Department of Treasury has millions of dollars in lost or forgotten assets from dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, valuables left in safe deposit boxes and stock certificates."


Some of this money may also be un-returned earnest deposits for real estate transactions that “fell through”

When you write an offer to purchase a home, you include an earnest deposit that demonstrates your good faith to the seller.  Sometimes, a real estate transaction is cancelled and that deposit is returned to the buyer.

Why would a real estate transaction be cancelled? – If the home inspection didn’t go well and the buyer and seller couldn’t agree on repairs, or if the appraisal came in low and no resolution could be achieved, or if the buyer’s lender rejected the loan for a reason that was no fault of the buyer’s, the transaction could be cancelled and the seller would typically agree to release the deposit back to the buyer.

BUT – if our office sends that check back to the buyer at their last known address and they never cash it and we are unsuccessful at locating that buyer to return their money, we are required to “escheat” that money to the State of Michigan who then holds on to it until the person claims it.

Try this:  Go to and under “CLAIMING PROPERTY” enter your last name. (Consider using your maiden name, too).  A list of names will come up of people who have unclaimed property with the State.  The number of people you recognize from your family might surprise you. 

What do you do if you see your name?


Once you’ve found the properties that may belong to you, click the CLAIM button, and then click the gray VIEW CLAIMED PROPERTIES button to begin the claims process.  I just recently received a $100 check for an old refund from a cancelled insurance policy!

If you have any trouble with the process, call our offices:  Battle Creek 269-968-6101 or Marshall 269-781-8966 and an agent would be happy to help you through it.

Mineral Rights

Today an agent had a question about mineral rights. Her buyer was purchasing two parcels of land that they intended to build on.  According to prior deeds, when the current owners split a much larger parcel into smaller parcels to sell, they reserved the mineral rights on all of the parcels.

Mineral Rights are the right to extract minerals from the soil or the right to receive payment for the extraction of minerals.

Minerals may be many things, but generally refer to gas, oil, coal, metals or non-metal minerals.

When you purchase property from someone, you don't automatically purchase the mineral rights with it.  Some land owners will retain the mineral rights in a sale if they feel there might be a future chance to collect on the extraction of oil, gas or other minerals.  Large landowners who sell small parcels off of their land reserve the rights so that they can use them on the remaining acreage and avoid sharing profits.

The reserve of minerals rights should be listed on the deed.  But, just because a seller doesn't list on the deed that they are reserving mineral rights, doesn't mean the buyer is getting them.  The current seller may have bought the property without the mineral rights and never owned them in the first place.

Most buyers are not too concerned about mineral rights especially if they are buying a house on a lot that is 1 acre or less as they don't intend to mine for minerals on the property.

Mineral rights can become a concern on larger tracts of land when the buyer may have had plans in the future for drilling or mining.

If you are buying land, be sure to ask your agent about the mineral rights and read your title policy carefully.

For more information on mineral rights, go to and search "mineral rights", or reach out to your favorite RE/MAX agent.

Set VERY small goals that you can actually achieve


As the year end approaches, once again, we find ourselves thinking about the many BIG changes we need to make in 2019 to be more productive, to make more money, to be more organized, to serve more, etc.

After reading the book, "One Small Step Can Change Your Life - The Kaizen Way", by Robert Maurer, PhD, I have decided to make only a couple very tiny changes toward these ends.

For years I have been preaching to agents to "under-promise and over-deliver" while all the while over-promising to myself with grand resolutions in January that are painfully under-delivered in December.

This year, I will practice what I preach.  Here are some examples of small changes that would be almost impossible not to meet, but could make major changes to your income:

  • Instead of setting a goal to implement a sweeping post-closing follow-up plan, commit to telling each client at each closing, "Thank you so much for your business. Would you be willing to give my name to your friends?"

  • Instead of implementing a complete time-blocking system - promise yourself that you'll call each active seller on Tuesday and give them a 1 minute update.  Do the same thing for all active buyers on Thursday.

  • Instead of trying to double your income this year, make a commitment to put $20 out of each closing into a savings account and then transfer the total into a retirement account at the end of the year.

  • Instead of trying to pick up new buyers and sellers, make a commitment to reach out to one prior client per week and have a conversation about their life.

Wouldn't you rather get to the end of the year and realize that you accomplished all of your goals and maybe even exceeded them?  Isn't it better to make a few small changes than to be paralyzed by big daunting changes?

I would love to hear your ideas of tiny little changes you could make this year for a better 2019.  Please comment on our Facebook page
and use the hashtag #tinygoals.

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