Real estate Q&A: Be accommodating if seller wants to delay closing

Q: The sellers want to push back our closing date. What should we do?

Q: We are under contract to buy a home. We have our loan approved, and the closing is in about two weeks. The sellers just dropped a bombshell on us that the home they are moving into won't be ready for another month, so they want to push back our closing date. We really want this house. What should we do?

– Andrew

A: The first thing to do is check your contract to see if it contains any contingency related to this. Your contract should address any conditions that may reasonably occur, so that you will know in advance what is supposed to happen – before it ever becomes a crisis.

If your contract says nothing about this, you and the seller are both in precarious positions because the seller probably needs the proceeds from this sale to buy the new house. If you really want this house, be as accommodating as possible.

Many home loans are time-sensitive, so you will need to check with your loan officer to see if the loan can be extended without losing your interest rate or the ability to close. If there is any charge or expense for this, ask the seller to cover it.

If your loan closing date is not flexible, you may need to consider a post-occupancy agreement with your seller. In that scenario, you would close on the house and allow the seller to remain (while paying you rent) for a certain period of time. The agreement would need to clearly spell out what happens if there's damage to the property. Generally, though, it's best to avoid post-occupancy agreements.



Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.


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