Can We Close On The Home Earlier or Later Than The Contract Date?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 SAL.2002007747

Write that back up offer or not?

Can We Close On The Home Earlier or Later Than The Contract Date?

There are two key dates in a home purchase contract that buyers and sellers care about most:  Closing date and Occupancy date.

The first is the date the paperwork is signed off and home ownership is transferred.  In Ohio, that typically means buyers and sellers meet at a closing table, the title company's rep is there to direct the sign offs of all the paperwork and the agents are there to provide support to their clients.

Occupancy date is the date that possession is given to the buyers.  Most often, the closing and occupancy are the same date.  Buyers get the keys to the home right at the closing table.  However, there are times the contract allows for the sellers to stay in the home a bit longer, maybe a few days, maybe a week, and sometimes even longer (although longer most often will result in a rent back situation).

Now also in the Cincinnati/Dayton MLS purchase contract on line 279 right after the specified closing date is the phrase "or earlier as mutually agreed by the parties".  Notice it says EARLIER, not later.  Assuming sellers are willing to move out early (or have already left), the buyer's financing is approved and the title company can complete their tasks on time, it's relatively simple to move up the closing.  It's typically a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Arrangements are made, utility transfers set up, closing time set and it's a done deal.

On the other hand, there's nothing standard in the contract for LATER.  LATER usually means something bad has happened:  buyer financing is delayed, inspection repairs are taking longer than expected, or even worse, the buyer is ready to go but the seller has BADLY underestimated how long it will take them to get out or where they're going next.

To move the date later, again, BOTH parties have to agree.  That purchase contract is a legally binding contract, and the agreed upon dates are a critical part of that contract.  Failing to meet the contract terms provides a window for the contract to be voided.  If the buyer can't get financing as agreed, the seller has every right to say "sorry, but we're putting the home back on the market". Or if they have a back up offer in place, they may go to Plan Back Up.

However, assuming both parties are open to an extension of closing dates, an addendum is filled out, signed by both parties and the contract is now approved for the new date.  Financing gets adjusted, the title company works to the new date and the dominoes start to fall again and the new date is met.  Not ideal, but still a win-win when it's all done at the closing table. 

NOTE:  We're NOT real estate attorneys, so if the situation gets outside the normal realm of the approved contract and process,  our advice is to consult a real estate attorney.

Other questions about buying or selling a Cincinnati area home?  Just ask!  You can reach us at or call 513-520-5305. 

Serving Warren County's residential real estate needs,
Liz and Bill aka BLiz

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Serving Warren County Ohio & Adjacent Areas


The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Elite
Elizabeth Spear, ABR, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2002007747

William (Bill) Spear, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2004011109  Kentucky 77938
Ask for us by name if you visit the office!

EHO Two locations: Lebanon & Mason, OH
Bill Direct:  513-520-5305
Liz Direct: 513-265-3004     
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Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

I've let my clients know that those dates are written in sand not stone, only if both parties agree.

Jun 04, 2015 10:45 AM #1
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

in Georgia there is a unilateral 7 day extension that either party can use for specific reasons (loan not ready, title issue being cleared) but not just any reason, the specific reasons are spelled out in the contract.  And we have the same verbiage about the "or before".  Right now we have a party on the other side trying to wiggly past the date for a non contract accepted reason and for longer than 7 days.  Nope, not gonna happen.

Jun 04, 2015 10:58 AM #2
Jenna Dixon
DRA Homes | Cobb County Real Estate - Marietta, GA
Empowers You With a Better Real Estate Experience

Contract extensions can get tricky and the consequences can be punitive.  The absolute WORST to deal with is the seller who fails to vacate on time.  Quite the sticky wicket.

Jun 04, 2015 11:36 AM #3
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Susan, We've recently had it go in both directions.  Tomorrow we're completing a listing two weeks ahead of schedule.  This week a closing got moved out a week, and another that was supposed to happen next week is after new financing, so about 3 weeks out.  And don't ask me about the short sale I have the buyers for.  We HOPE that one happens this month, but could slip into next month or the buyers could just punt on the contract and start over with another home.

Tammy, I like the idea that your contract already specifies acceptable reasons to allow those extensions.  Less hassle and feuding when everyone knows what to expect.

Jenna, The buyer is at a real disadvantage in that situation.  What are you going to do?  Sue?  Call the cops? Or just wait and hope for the best? It's a bad situation for sure.

Jun 04, 2015 11:48 AM #4
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Yup, same here.

If both sides agree, we can all move faster. It's the delaying buyer that still wants to close that can cause problems (aka, problematic lenders who can't get to closing on time).

I sure hope we don't start having more delays after the August rollout of TRID, because no one usually likes those, even if both sides agree.

Jun 04, 2015 01:06 PM #5
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post for anyone curious as to closing dates in your area!   Our dates are never the same unless it's a cash sale and sometimes that doesn't happen.  

Jun 04, 2015 03:22 PM #6
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Claude, We don't usually see a lot of cash deals, but have had a couple lately.  Lots more flexibility with those.

Jan, We tend to have same day, but not uncommon to give the sellers 3 days to move out after closing.

Jun 04, 2015 09:43 PM #7
Tom White
Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or - Franklin, TN
Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN

BLiz, interesting differences between states. In Tennessee we have split closings so it's very rare that buyers and sellers have any contact with one another. The closing and occupancy almost always occur on the same day, but I'm afraid that may change after August 1 . We'll see how that plays out!

Jun 04, 2015 11:41 PM #8
Conrad Allen
Re/Max Professional Associates - Webster, MA
Webster, Ma, Realtor

Hi Bill.  Occupancy and closing dates are the same in our area.

Jun 05, 2015 08:35 PM #9
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Bill & Liz, we too can close earlier than contract date, but the lender usually wants an amend/extend for this new day. 

Jun 07, 2015 11:34 PM #10
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Tom, In most cases it's simultaneous.  Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's a bit tense if negotations were a bit trying.

Conrad, We get a mix, but preferred is simultaneous.

Joan, We haven't had that request here, but it doesn't come up often.

Jun 08, 2015 04:21 AM #11
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Bill, and this is yet ANOTHER reason to have a real estate agent do your transaction. We bought a FSBO and the day that we were supposed to move in the owners were only about 1/2 through their move! They had built a new home and were still dragging their feet. We actually HELPED them move and found somewhere to dump all of their crap that they had FILLED the garage with. It was awful!

(I was not in real estate at the time, and there had been NO ROOM for a buyer's agent fee, so my hubby said no, we can't use a realtor).

Could have been an even bigger nightmare. 

Jun 09, 2015 03:00 AM #12
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