How To Handle A Home Buyer Who Delays Closing

Performance Property Real Estate Question

Q: Gerald. We are in contract to sell our home and the buyer keeps delaying the closing. We’re moving and buying another home and can’t afford to wait any longer. What can we do? Monica, Roseland, NJ

A: The first thing you should do is identify the closing date in the purchase contract you signed with the buyer you are selling your home to.  If the closing date in the contract has passed and you’re using a real estate attorney, tell your attorney to send what’s called a time of the essence letter to the buyer’s attorney or the buyer directly if the buyer is not represented by an attorney.  In New Jersey, the date set forth in a time is of the essence notice is at least 10 calendar days from the date of the demand.   Therefore, a time of the essence letter sent after the tentative closing date has passed serves as legal notice to the buyer–the letter should outline the date, time and place the real estate transaction must close by and also state that the other party will be in breach of contract if they don’t close by the date outlined in the letter. Hopefully, a time of the essence letter will light a spark under your buyer to get his or her act together and finally close.  If not, you and your attorney can consider remedies like going after the buyer’s deposit for example after the 10 days have passed and the buyer is officially in breech of the purchase contract.  Thanks for your question, Monica.

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