Do I need to close on the closing date in my contract to purchase a home in New York City?

I am often asked this question by my clients who are either buying or selling a home, cooperative apartment or condominium unit.  The standard residential contract of sale used by attorneys in the New York Metropolitan area will state that the closing will take place, for example, “on or about October 1, 2016.”  The phrase “on or about” has been interpreted by the New York courts to mean that either side has a reasonable period beyond the “on or about” date in which to close.  While the courts are silent as to what constitutes a “reasonable” time, almost all real estate attorneys practicing in the New York Metropolitan area have come to a consensus that reasonable is 30 days.

If a party is unwilling to close within that 30 day period the attorney for the party wishing to close can send what is referred to as a “time is of the essence” letter to the other party.  That letter will set forth a new closing date, usually 10 days after the expiration of the 30 day period, stating that “Time is of the Essence.” If the party receiving the letter does not close by that date they can be declared in default under the terms of the contract of sale.

When signing a contract as a seller or buyer, be sure you communicate to your attorney your desired time frame so as to not run up against deadlines in the contract which could cause you to default.


About George H. Dippel, Attorney at Law

George H. Dippel has been practicing law for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School and a former partner at the law firm of Rivkin Radler in their real estate/banking department. Mr. Dippel opened his own law offices in 1993 in Bayside, Queens, New York. Mr. Dippel has assisted thousands of clients throughout Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester with their wills, probate, trusts, real estate and business matters. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Dippel has taught real estate courses in Long Island University’s paralegal program. He is also a licensed real estate instructor and has taught real estate licensing courses in the New York Metropolitan area. Mr. Dippel is admitted to practice in all New York State Courts and the Federal Eastern and Southern District Courts.
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