One of my buyers expected to close on his purchase in February. Settlement was scheduled only yesterday, for July 26.
It’s not that his attorney didn’t try to ensure a prompt closing or that he hasn’t been nagging the seller’s attorney or that I haven’t been nagging the broker. The sad fact is that there is no way to force the issue.
In my client’s case, the problem is that he bought a condo in a new, unfinished New York City building, and developers rarely brook any changes in contract language that could affect them adversely; if someone wants to buy the sponsor’s condo, the purchaser must play by the sponsor’s rules.
But it is theoretically possible for buyers and sellers intent on a firm settlement date to negotiate a contract in which an inviolable phrase is written:
Time is of the essence.
Lacking those words, a 30-day postponement routinely occurs without buyer or seller even having to agree to the change in writing.
Considering how many wrenches can monkey up the works, “time is of the essence” is a phrase that is best inserted with the knowledge that either of the parties will face serious penalties if they fail to meet their contractual obligations.
What the phrase means is this: Put up or pay up.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022