Can the buyer of a house get out of the contract if the seller is not ready to close on the closing date?

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Can the buyer of a house get out of the contract if the seller is not ready to close on the closing date?

The house I want to buy is in an estate that is being settled. The heir is

selling the house. I have been negotiating with the heir. If the estate is not

settled by the closing date can I, the buyer, get out of the contract and get my earnest money back? I ask the question in case the seller is not ready to close on the agreed upon closing date which is getting close. I wouldn’t mind getting out of the contract.

Asked on February 15, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the extent of the delay, and there are no hard-and-fast rules or guidelines unfortunately--it is a subjective standard. You can only terminate a contract for a "material" or significant breach. So the question becomes, for a transaction like this, what is "material." Given the context--a real estate transaction, where delays are not uncommon--a delay of a few days would not be considered material and would most likely not let you get out of the contract. A delay that was definitely more than or well-over a month, especially if you put the seller on written notice that there is some hardship or cost to you from the delay, would most likely justify termination. In between those two benchmarks, however, it is impossible to say exactly when the delay is too long.


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