Stress-Free Closing Date: Disconnect Utilities Seamlessly

Regina P. Brown | June 29, 2015 | Industry Commentary

Stress-Free Closing Date: Disconnect Utilities Seamlessly

In our last blog about your sellers moving out, we discussed some strategies to help the closing date (whenever it may occur) to be stress-free.  Now let’s look at another element of moving out:  disconnecting utilities.

Earlier, you advised the sellers to plan for overlapping residences so they won’t be fooled by a delayed closing date.  Also, they won’t unexpectedly hold up the moving date by trying to pack up 10 years’ worth of accumulations in a 2-day weekend.  Along with planning those packing dates, they will need to disconnect the utilities at some point.

Utilities may include those mandatory items like electricity / power, gas / fuel, water / sewer services, and trash pickup.  Don’t forget those other essential items such as phone, cable, and internet services.  If the property is in a rural area, the seller may need to contact service providers such as well water testers and septic tank pumpers.  Other items that may need to be discontinued and removed include solar roof leases, water conditioning equipment, and satellite dishes.

The quandary is that sellers don’t want to pay for more utility services than needed, but they also don’t want them turned off too early.  Have you ever tried packing and moving in the dark?  With no operational toilet?  Not fun!  Spare your sellers from these types of headaches prior to their closing date and advise them to leave the utilities on until they are completely moved out.  It may mean re-scheduling the turn-off date if escrow is delayed; or better yet, just waiting until they move out before calling the utility companies for disconnection.

Did you know that your sellers can turn on utilities at their new residence before disconnecting at their current house?  It can only benefit the sellers by connecting utilities at their new home as early as possible, so why wait? Advise them to get their new home’s utilities on right away.

Remember that if the sellers move out early, the utilities will still need to stay connected for the buyers to perform their inspections, appraisal, and reports.  It won’t hurt them to leave the utilities on until AFTER close of escrow, as long as they don’t forget and get a big bill three months later.

Real estate sellers can actually extend a “hand of friendliness” and leave the utilities on long enough for the buyers to get them turned over to their names.  By NOT having the utilities turned off completely, the buyer only pays a “transfer” fee rather than a “reconnection” fee (depending on that particular utility company).  Most utility vendors charge substantially less if they only have to read a meter, as compared to turning a utility off and then turning it back on again.  As the seller’s agent, you can advise the buyer’s agent of the date/time the seller plans to disconnect the utilities, so the buyer can call the utility company and get the services transferred to their names at the appropriate time.

Don’t overlook any details.  Help your sellers plan, prepare, and persevere through the moving process.  They are depending on your expertise.  Next, let’s look at how to pack up a house quickly and easily.

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Regina P. Brown

Want to guest post on Home Value Leads? Find out how! Regina P. Brown is a California real estate broker and has been licensed since 1988. She writes monthly articles for the San Diego Association of Realtors®, publishes a popular blog on ActiveRain, and has authored 2 real estate books. Regina enjoys contributing valuable information to her fellow colleagues because she’s passionate about her mission to “raise the standard of professionalism” in our real estate industry.