I figured I'd start out with horror story of my own. I was fresh out of real estate school, had a couple of pending contracts, and was on my way to my very first settlement. I had the buyer during this transaction. Throughout the previous couple of weeks the buyer and seller had been in touch with each other and had seemed to develop a working relationship. They had made arrangements for the buyer to keep some of the furniture, including a very old piano that could be restored. They seemed to get along great.

The settlement was originally scheduled for a Friday, and the seller requested the weekend to move. The buyer was willing to postpone settlement until the following Monday. The buyer did have fish that needed to be relocated to the new house, since the buyer's house settled Friday morning. The seller agreed to allow the buyer to move the fish tank in on that Friday. The buyer went to the property multiple times over the weekend to feed the fish and had multiple conversations with the seller. The buyer was told the movers were scheduled for first thing Monday morning.

Monday arrives. I called the buyer in the morning to check in and confirm our meeting time at the property for the pre-settlement walk through. The buyer decided that he felt comfortable with everything and since he was over the property multiple times throughout the weekend that he didn't need to visit the property again before settlement. He said he would meet me at settlement instead. As a rookie agent, I didn't know to argue the point and agreed to go along with what he wanted.


We arrived at the settlement. The settlement went very smoothly, everyone laughing and joking around. Towards the end, the seller asked the buyer if he minded a few things left on the porch until they could come back to get them with the truck. The buyer said it wasn't a problem at all, since the seller allowed him to keep his fish in the house until settlement. At the end, they shook hands and everyone left smiling.

I told the buyer I would meet him at the house after settlement. I had wanted to take the buyer to get something to eat once he had his movers (friends and family) situated. We pulled up in front of the property and there was a 3 foot high wall of trash lining the entire length of the property, completely blocking any access from the street to get his furniture through the front door. That of course, was a bit frustrating and disappointing for the buyer, and very inconsiderate of the seller. However, that was the least of our concerns.

Once we walked inside, our jaws dropped. The seller never moved out! Yes, the seller did ask if they could leave a few things on the porch but the seller neglected to include "and every other room in the house". Nothing was moved. Not a thing. As it turned out, the "movers" the seller said were coming first thing in the morning, were the son and a friend. All that they had accomplished was moving what they didn't want to take, the trash, to the curb. My wonderful first settlement had turned into a nightmare. The buyer was furious, but there was nothing we could do but wait it out.

By the end of the day, the seller and the "movers" had emptied the house. I spent the entire day with him trying to pacify him, and of course hurry the seller. When they were loading their last truck load I ran home and grabbed some sweat clothes, stopped at the liquor store and bought his favorite drink, and came back to help him get the house in order for his things to be moved in. Luckily, he didn't need my help (I probably wouldn't have been able to walk the next day if he did because of my back problems.) His family and friends were able to come back that evening and the next day to move his furniture. We did however get to enjoy a few cocktails when it was all over.

The moral of the story... Don't skip your pre-inspection walk through!!!!! As for me, that was the first and LAST time I allowed that to happen. In the event that you do your walk through and run into the same situation you can do a couple of things a) postpone settlement or b) settle and have the title clerk hold an escrow amount until the property is vacated and to cover you in case of damages. If you incur any debt because of the seller's breach of contract, you could be entitled to be reimbursed. Speak with your attorney for other possibilities and to decide the best course of action.