Whenever you and the Seller decide is best for both of you. Traditionally, closings take between 20 and 60 days, but I have seen closings as far out as 180 to 240 days, 8 months, or even more. Remember that closing on a property is always a question of negotiation. Sometimes a Seller has an exact date in mind and will offer no flexibility. There can be any number of reasons for this; for example, they have bought a property or are moving into an apartment or retirement home, and the closing for that deal is fixed, so they want to close the sale of their property on the same day.
On an MLS listing you’ll see the term “Possession Date” which may be given as something like “30 days/TBA” or “60 days/TBA”, etc. TBA stands for “to be arranged” or in other words, negotiated. So if you want to move in as soon as possible, you’ll need to discuss this with your agent in order to offer a closing date that will be acceptable to the Seller or at least open to negotiation. It isn’t very often that a deal falls apart or can’t be reached because of the closing date, but I have seen it happen. It’s best to have your agent discuss this aspect of your offer with the listing agent prior to or during preparation of an offer so that when your offer is presented to the Seller there won’t be any surprises, thus making the Seller nervous about the closing date. Again, discussion with your agent is imperative in this and all other matters dealing with your offer to buy a property. Agents who have been in the business for 15 to 25 or more years have tremendous experience with all kinds of offers and the pitfalls that come with negotiations. For every thousand offers, there are thousands of variables and thousands of reasons for selling and buying. Some Sellers need to sell and close in a short time; some Buyers want to wait a few months. It may be necessary to discuss this detail with your family, but it’s most important to rely on your agent to give you all of the options that you have in regards to choosing the right closing date.
As for when to move in? The day the deal closes is traditionally the day that people move into their newly-purchased property. Keep in mind that it is illegal to move in to a property prior to closing unless it has been agreed to by both parties in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, or if it is a new condo that hasn’t yet been registered. As with any other questions, there can be a hundred or more answers depending on your individual situation. Speak to your agent!