If the seller couldn’t make the closing date and wanted an extension but I didn’t sign, can I get out of buying the house?

Asked on July 31, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the exact circumstances. Generally, a contract is only terminated (ended) by a "material" breach; a material breach is an important one. If the seller missed the closing date by only a few days, that would generally not be a material breach unless you had notified the seller that "time was of the essence" (or the equivalent) for some good reason, like the expiration of a lease (you had to move out or would have to pay another month's rent), expiration of your mortgage's rate lock (so your rate would change), need to be in by a certain date for residency so your child could attend a school, etc. If there was no good reason why a short delay would be an issue, and/or you had never communicted your need to close exactly on time, then a brief delay would not be material and would not terminate the contract. 

Of course, a delay of weeks or longer is a different story, and would very like constitute a material-enough delay to allow you to treat the contract as terminated and get out of buying the house.

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