Real Estate Q & A

June 16, 2011

Extending the Date for a Co-op Closing


Q: I’m buying a co-op, and the contract sets the closing on or about Aug. 1. I have heard that I can get an automatic extension of the date for 30 days without requesting an extension from the seller. Is this true? I don’t want the seller to keep my deposit and sell to someone else, saying I breached the contract.

A: Lior Aldad, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said that although the closing date is a basic element of a real estate transaction, it is frequently not as precise as it may appear. For a specific date to be absolutely binding, it must be stated in the contract that “time is of the essence.” “Without this provision, New York courts will allow either a buyer or seller a reasonable amount of time to close,” Mr. Aldad said, adding that a 30-day extension would be considered reasonable.

He notes that when a “time is of the essence” clause is included in the contract, it binds both parties equally. So if buyers insist on a date for the closing, they had better be ready, willing and able to proceed to the closing on that date.