Besides “How much money do I need to bring to closing?”, the most asked question by the Buyer is “When do I get my keys?”. Although there is no single rule, the majority practice for new construction appears to be “when the deed and check have been exchanged or when the deed has been recorded”. For existing houses, there is no general rule. The keys may be already given at the final walk through, may be handed to the Buyer at the settlement table, or may be delayed until after recording (i.e. REO Sellers). No matter when the keys are to be delivered, make sure that the Buyer knows when and how to get the keys.
PS—I personally prefer that the keys be given to the Buyer at the settlement table, after the Buyer has signed all their loan docs and delivered their closing check. The only thing left for the Buyers is to move in! This is a great opportunity for the realtor, if he or she is present at the closing, to be the hero by handing over the keys.
Please contact me if you have any questions.