Possession and ownership after closing - VA state

6 Replies


I just closed on a house sold by Fannie Mae. At the closing table, my agent tells me the settlement agent / sellers agent instructed her not to give me the keys. Wasn't in a mood to argue, especially since my agent was sure the recording will happen the next day. Now we are 2 days out and still no news, so i call the agent. Apparently they are just recording the deed today.

This messed up my plans a little; no big deal. What pissed me off was the settlement agent telling my realtor that "Virginia law requires that the deed be recorded before the keys be handed over". To me this is pure BS. What does possession have to do with ownership?

To makes things worse, i looked over the contract, and in it Fannie Mae agreed to give me possession at closing; plain and simple.

Has  anyone run into a similar issue before? Is there anything I can to about the fact that i lost 3 days of possession?    

That is very odd, i just closed on my house a few weeks ago in VA. You should be able to get the keys at closing and then the title company will record the deed another day. I closed, signed all the papers, got my keys and the title company said they would go to the court the next day to record it and there was no issue. You should not have to wait for the deed to be recorded for you to get your house. Something is off and your real estate agent should have known that.

I'm not sure what you can do about the 3 day of possession, I would really hammer down on your real estate agent though for him to figure it out. He should know the legalities of this. 

Teouble is my agent is still a rookie. She's learned a lot from having me as s client though 😄. When I bought my current place 3 years ago . It happened just the way you described. I signed the papers and was handed an envelope with the keys. 

I was copied on an email that has the seller's agent and settlement company folks on it. Just replied to it stating  that the seller was in breach and that I would seek damages and costs. Not that I am going to sue over 3 days but I am curious to see what they say. 

Will post when they reply

Silly, but to be expected.  I would have immediately changed the locks anyway, as who wants lock where 30 or so local preservation/inspector personnel have the key?

@Satha Palani

Hello! Possession is typically granted at settlement and there is a paragraph in the Central Virginia purchase agreement template that allows for different options. Most sales are conducted this way and keys transfer at settlement (closing).

Fannie Mae's addendum, however, specifies that possession will not occur until funding. So the closing agent is correct, you should receive keys once the deed has been recorded and funds have been received by Fannie Mae's title company.

Hope this helps!

I will be new to VA purchasing properties in the Hampton Roads area sometime this summer. I have my house up for sale in upstate New York. As soon as we have closing I'll be moving. It seems to me that recording the deed does nothing more than telling the public you own the property. Once you sign the deed at closing you are immediately in possession of the property. That's my take on it.

Yeah, that's not right. Typically possession happens at closing (like John mentioned, there are options in the contract that can be negotiated on for possession to happen prior or closing, but that is agreed upon when the contract is initially ratified). I have heard of some issues being settled on the day of closing. For example, if the closing happened in the morning and the issue would be taken care of by the early afternoon; I've heard of the title company holding the keys until the issue was settled. This is done only by approval by all parties involved. It is also not a common practice.

Title companies have a margin of time they must submit the deed to the land records dept of the local government (albeit a short time). After which it can take days for the office to file and record the information, especially if they're backed up. The process doesn't just take a day or two. 

Your agent should be helping you get the keys and finish up. Otherwise contact their broker and discuss the situation.

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