Once we bought our home, we were so excited we that we could barely wait to move in.
I was so eager to start living in our new place that I immediately jumped on my phone, and researched: ‘do you get your house keys on settlement day?’
Legally, the buyer is entitled to receive his or her keys by no later than midday of the day after settlement. It is common practice for you to get your house keys on settlement day, but it’s best to discuss it with your real estate agent to avoid confusion.
So, having learned this, I called up our agent to find out what the next step was.
Arranging to collect your keys
If you’re organised, and have spoken to the agent as I mentioned, you will get your keys on settlement day.
You’ll obviously have to wait until the whole process has been completed before the real estate agent can hand them over to you, but you can certainly get the ball rolling days prior to make sure the handover goes as smoothly as possible.
I’d advise calling your agent the week of your settlement date, and lock in a time to meet with them – that’s what we did, and he was more than happy to work in around what best suited us.
It’s probably ideal to arrange to meet him or her at the house, for a few reasons.
The first is because you’ll be able to get that ‘new home buyer’ selfie in front of your new place!
You’ll be proud as punch when you see the ‘sold’ label stuck on front of the sign in your front yard, and the agent will probably want a photo too so that they can show off another successful sale to their next client.
But Instagram photos aside, the most important reason to meet the agent at the house is so that you can go through it together, and make sure all the keys fit the locks, and that none are missing.
Make sure you are thorough in doing this, and don’t let the agent go until you are satisfied.
What do I do if keys are missing?
Unfortunately for us, the key to our pop-up sprinkler system was missing when the agent came to hand over the house keys.
It is something the agent should have already checked before meeting us at the property, but some agents are better than others, and some aren’t quite as thorough as they should be.
If this happens to you, here’s what you need to do.
The number one thing to get clear is this: chasing up keys is not your responsibility; it is the agent’s.
The first plan of attack should be for the agent to go back to the vendor and see if they can locate the key.
If they manage to do this, then that’s great and you’ll have to arrange another time for the agent to drop it off.
If the key can’t be located, which is what happened to us, then it is up to the agent to resolve the problem, and arrange for a replacement.
What happened in our case was the agent contacted a locksmith, who came around to our house and had a new key cut, at no cost to us.
I have to stress that this is not a cost that is to be worn by you as the new home owner.
It is the agent’s responsibility to have the keys ready to be handed over on settlement date, and if they aren’t then it is either them or the vendor who wears that cost.
My keys don’t work: now what?
It’s hugely important that you check all the keys the agent gives to you to make sure they fit the locks.
Once settlement is completed, the agent will be quick to move on with their next sale, and the constant contact you had with them throughout the sale period will quickly dissipate once the deal is sealed, and their care factor will fade quite quickly.
For this reason, it’s important to test every key to the home, in every lock, before the agent leaves – because once they’re gone, it might be hard to get them back.
Try out all the locks, and if one or more of the keys don’t work, follow the same process as you would for a missing key.
The agent will need to try and get the vendor to locate the correct key, and if it can’t be found then a new key will need to be cut at no cost to you.
I’m being told to pay for missing keys: what do I do?
If you haven’t received your keys by midday the day after your settlement has been completed, or if the agent hasn’t provided you with all the keys and is demanding you cover the cost for new ones, then you may need to contact a higher authority.
The Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) is the body responsible for handling complaints against real estate agents within Adelaide, and across the state.
All real estate agents affiliated with REISA are bound by a code of practice, and if you believe an agent has breached this code then you can communicate your concerns with them.
Hopefully your agent will be helpful and reasonable, and do everything they can do ensure the handover of keys on settlement date goes as smoothly as possible, but if they aren’t, then take comfort in knowing REISA will be able to work with you to achieve a resolution.