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Checklist - House/apartment handover in real estate sales: What should you pay attention to?

After signature is completed on the property sales contract, a house/apartment is transferred to another owner. When handing over the house/apartment, there are a number of concrete steps to be taken to ensure that the handover goes smoothly. The following is a list of all the important aspects to be considered when handing over a house/apartment.

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1. House/apartment handover protocol for real estate sale - content and time?
2. Procedure & tips for handing over the house/apartment when selling property
3. Which documents are important when handing over the house/apartment?


1. House/apartment handover protocol of property sales - content and time?

Handover protocol of property sales:

Normally, the contract of property sales is finalized between the contracting parties few weeks before the handover of the house/apartment. This means that the handover details of the object are still missing in this contract, because these details are specified and documented only in the handover protocol. This ultimately creates clarity for both parties. A very detailed handover protocol requires more time to be documented to prevent future disputes.

When is the house/apartment handover protocol created?

The date of keys handover is crucial. When you have sold your house, this is the last opportunity to inspect the building again together with the home buyer and draw up a house/apartment handover protocol. Normally, there is no rule without exception, but 99% of the time, the house/apartment is only handed over after the real estate purchase contract has been signed as well as the purchase amount has been transferred. This is because the entire home selling process is only completed when the property is handed over. Start from this point, the buyer is responsible for the payment of all additional costs such as electricity, water, garbage or property tax.

Which information is included in the house/apartment handover protocol?

  • Name, address and date of birth of the home seller and the buyer, as well as the address of the sold property.
  • Status check, all rooms with detailed description (including all possible defects / damages).
  • Status check, the exterior and garden with detailed description.
  • List of the inventory, in case the buyer takes over certain items such as an equipped kitchen.
  • Meter readings for electricity, water and gas, level of the oil tank, (possibly still to be settled).
  • Number of existing front door keys, mailbox keys, cellar keys, possibly additional keys for separate rooms, garage and shed.
  • Individual agreements, e.g. whether the home seller still has to pay additional fee for household goods or garbage dispose.
  • List of all relevant documents of the property the buyer received. This includes floor plans showing the location of telephone, internet, cable and water connections.

Still defects after apartment handover protocol?

Broken windows, a faulty tap, scratches on doors and windows, stained floors or battered bathroom fittings, problems with electrical appliances – it is uncommon that the buyer does not accept the defects at the handover of the house. Therefore, please include all obvious damages in the house/apartment handover protocol. Experts strongly recommend taking photos of the defects. Document the defects as much detailed as possible and clarify what should be done with them.

If defects that nobody noticed before are revealed after the purchase of the property, this will be annoying for both parties. For clarification: In the property sales contract, the context usually states that the home seller is not responsible for significant material defects, this is called a "disclaimer". However, if you have already agreed that you as the home seller will replace or repair defects (e.g. a stained carpet) in the contract of sale, this must be done before the handover. Otherwise, you will have to renegotiate with the buyer to remedy the problems.

Another case is if the buyer notices new defects in the property during the handover appointment. Defects that were not present at previous inspections? In the case of minor damages, buyers can at least require the repair of the defects. However, if the defects are serious such as mould infestation that has occurred for a while, the home seller will be required with much more demands. The home seller must ensure the obvious defects are professionally repaired as soon as possible. This could even cause a greater impact on the purchase agreement. For example, if there is a complete failure of the heating system, there is a possibility of demanding payment of damages from the home buyer or in extreme cases of withdrawing from the real estate purchase contract.

2. Procedure & tips of the house/apartment handing over with the property sales

The following instructions will show you how a house/apartment handover is carried out step by step and what has to be taken into account:

Tips for handing over the house/apartment: Step-by-step instructions

Confirm the handover date with the buyer and the real estate agent. If one of the contracting parties is not able to be present, a representative is recommended in this case.

  • If a real estate agent has been appointed for the sale of the property, he/she should be present at the handover.
  • Draw up the house/apartment handover protocol for the property and document the condition of the property in detail.
  • Document possible defects and clarify how to deal with them.
  • Read the meter readings, accompanied if possible.
  • Hand over all important documents such as operating instructions to the buyer.
  • Have the handing over party of the keys countersigned.
  • Explain various connections, locations, the details of important electrical appliances to the buyer.
  • Have the handover protocol signed by all parties present.
3. Which documents are important when handing over the house/apartment?