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When can a seller delay a real estate closing?

by | Mar 1, 2021 | Real Estate Practice

You agree with the seller on a date to close on your new property. You fit it into your busy schedule and you’re excited to officially close and take ownership. Suddenly, however, the seller says they need to change that date.

How often does this happen? Can the seller really do that?

Minor delays in closing are a common practice

Small changes to closing dates are actually very common. They may not really impact you all that much. Perhaps you agreed to close on a Monday, for instance, but the seller has a personal conflict and can’t get in until Wednesday. Or, maybe they want to move the closing up to get it done sooner. 

Most of the time, these changes are just negotiations. You’re all trying to find a day that works — you, the seller, the company that is handling the closing, etc. They may ask you for a change and you can give your consent or suggest something else. 

The reasons for these changes vary. Sometimes, they revolve around personal issues in one person’s life, such as a spouse falling ill or a loved one passing away. Other times, they’re related to the home itself. Perhaps the inspection showed that there were issues that will take longer than anticipated to fix. The seller might ask for extra time to get the repairs done so that they can still sell you the home for the agreed-upon price. Keep in mind, however, that the standard agreement of sale used by real estate agents in Pennsylvania for residential sales is a “time is of the essence” agreement with a deadline to close, and buyers can be in breach of contract if they don’t close within the time permitted by the agreement. Most commercial agreements of sale also contain deadlines to close. You should negotiate an addendum to the agreement of sale, and get it signed by both buyer and seller before the deadline in the agreement of sale. 

Navigating the process of closing

Though these discussions are often simple and easy to resolve, they can grow contentious and complicated. Maybe you want to close to get closer to having your investment pay off and the seller is costing you time and money by asking for delays. If you need help navigating this process, our firm would be happy to assist. Just don’t wait until it is too late.