When a new real estate purchase contract shows up on my desk I review it for approval and take note of some important dates that are found in the contract. These include when the contract needs to be approved by, when the home inspection and any other tests need to be completed by, when the buyer needs his/her/their mortgage commitment letter by, and finally, when the all-important closing is supposed to take place.
Generally, depending on any number of circumstances (type of financing, other contingencies, etc.) the closing date gets set a month or a month and a half after the contract date. In my experience all the parties involved in the transaction (buyers, sellers, realtors, attorneys) try their best to get everything set to close as close to the contract date as possible. However, inevitably some unforeseen circumstance or problem arises that makes scheduling the closing for the contract date impossible.
What most people do not realize is that most residential real estate contracts call for a closing “on or about” a certain date. This means that the closing does not have to be scheduled on the exact closing date found in the contract. Rather, it gives a time frame that usually means 10-15 days on either side of the date listed. This is done so that if a problem arises or if the buyers have not been cleared to close by their lender, then all of the parties have some flexibility. The other type of closing date that can be set is called a “time of the essence” clause. This means that the closing must take place on or before the specific date set in the contract. These types of clauses are not generally found in residential real estate contracts as the default contract is “on or about.”
Here are a few helpful reminders when entering into a real estate transaction and setting a closing date:
Don’t schedule the movers too far in advance
Don’t schedule a vacation too close to the closing date
When buying or selling a home, you need to have a little flexibility when it comes to scheduling the closing. Remember, everyone is generally trying to reach the same goal in a real estate transaction, but issues arise and the closing date may need to be moved. If you factor in a little flexibility then everything should go a lot smoother.