Contract Dates Are There for a Reason so Pay Attention!

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. CA DRE #01490977

Contract Dates Are There for a Reason. Pay Attention!



The Residential Offer to Purchase contract (RPA) here in California is a critical document, one that is filled with deadlines that buyers, and sellers, must adhere to.



Learn more about how to buy a home at Home Buying Tips and Advice (videos).



Not paying attention to due dates, or abiding by them, can put your transaction at risk, and maybe even cost you money. I can’t provide legal advice as I am not an attorney, but I can tell you there are potential risks when a buyer or seller does not abide by contract dates.



Here are some key things you should know.



Buyer handbookThere are a number of deadlines in the contract, all of which hinge on perhaps the most important date…the date of acceptance of the buyer’s offer by the seller.



The date of acceptance starts the clock ticking, so to speak, and the deadlines for performance flow from this essential date, starting the day after.



There are specific performance deadlines to:  provide buyer’s proof of funds; apply for the loan; complete the due diligence phase (e.g., property investigation), normally 17 days unless otherwise negotiated; receive the loan approval (typically 21 days unless negotiated otherwise); close escrow; and others.



Another deadline that sometimes comes into play is the Expiration of Offer deadline by which a response to the offer is due, in writing, from the seller and received by the buyer or buyer’s agent. Here in California if no date is included the expiration of the offer defaults to the 3rd day at 5 PM after the offer is signed by the buyer. It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of including a particular deadline with your agent, depending on the circumstances (e.g., multiple offers) as opposed to leaving it open.



It’s also important to know that “days” normally refers to calendar days, not business days, unless other specified, as in the case of the “3 business days” for providing the earnest money deposit to escrow.



While your agent will make sure you are aware of the appropriate due dates, it’s important for you to pay attention to the contract, keep track of deadlines, and do what’s required in a timely manner. And remember that not sticking to the deadlines can impact others, say, your lender who has some time frames of their own they must adhere to.



It’s essential, as a buyer, to understand what you are agreeing to in the contract, which is legally binding. A key part of this is knowing the deadlines and due dates, and being committed to keeping them to avoid any risk to your transaction.

Comments (27)

Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jeff, 

I know buyers in Carlsbad,  feel they are in good hands because you are their REALTOR® and you will help keep them on track. They know they can count on you....!!

Jun 27, 2017 07:31 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jeff I so agree with you, there are buyers and sellers that need to read your post, so they do not think it is just me telling them the importance of adhering to time lines...Endre

Jun 27, 2017 10:46 PM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Good morning Jeff.  Herein Arkansas the IRSA is 10 business days, otherwise ours reads the same as yours does.

Jun 28, 2017 02:02 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is important information to share with home buyers and home sellers.

Jun 28, 2017 04:38 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Dorie Dillard  - it's so true. Buyers, especially new ones, don't always seem to understand the importance.

Thanks for stopping by Brenda Mayette . Timing can get pretty complex sometimes and must be watched carefully.


Jun 28, 2017 07:56 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks for the kind words Kathleen Daniels  You are so right about the closing date - issues with lenders, or other situations, can definitely impact that date.

Hi Anna Banana Kruchten, CRS  - buyers, and sellers, certainly need to understand the importance of doing so. Some, including agents, seem to take it pretty lightly.


Jun 28, 2017 07:59 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks Amanda S. Davidson  - there are lots of timelines to be aware of and buyers, and sellers, need to know them and understand how it all works.

William Feela  - yep I have had a few that don't seem to take the deadline seriously, or perhaps it's their clients.


Jun 28, 2017 08:07 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Dan Jasmer  - that's a good way to do it. I notify whoever needs to know, AND remind them as dates are approaching.

Thanks for such kind words Sheri Sperry - MCNE® . I also have a terrific TC who helps keep everything on target as far as dates.


Jun 28, 2017 08:09 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks Endre Barath, Jr.  - we all know how important these dates are, and the sure come along quickly sometimes!

James Dray  - certainly many dates are open to negotiation in the intial contract. In our competitive market it's common to see some time lines shortened up, like the inspection period.


Jun 28, 2017 08:12 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff I have to constantly stay on top of my Borrowers about getting in documentation right away so that we are not running up to the deadlines on Commitment and Closing dates.  For some reason they seem to lose the sense of urgency once they get the mortgage application in.  I have found the best way to motivate them is to remind them their earnest money deposit is at risk if we do not meet those dates.

Jun 28, 2017 08:15 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Jeff - and as our contract states -- time is of the essence.  Reviewing the purchase agreement in that initial visit with buyers can often lead to some glazed expressions but it's important to understand the terms.  

Jun 28, 2017 08:27 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks Roy Kelley  - it's essential!!

Hi George Souto  - and I have heard that from other lenders, too. Some people are pretty good about paperwork and others are terrible. It can be a lot to cope with but it HAS to be done.


Jun 28, 2017 08:30 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Michael Jacobs 

I always review the contract in advance, especially with new buyers. It CAN be overwhelming and once they are under contract there is so much going on that reminders are often needed.


Jun 28, 2017 08:32 AM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Fantastic post, Jeff Dowler ... and a timely one as it seems that blindness to dates and deadlines is widespread these days.  People are seemingly growing oblivious ...


Jun 28, 2017 11:04 AM
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Jeff - That's a very important point that everyone involved in a transaction needs to pay attention to. One of the first things we do when we have a contract is to prepare a critical dates memo for our clients - it's been very helpful keeping them on track.

Jun 28, 2017 12:30 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi  - there are certainly some people who see to have no regard for dates in a contract...and there are a lot of them.

Hi Dick Greenberg  - I do a similar thing. The reminders are helpful and I suspect many buyers don't pay nearly as much attention to the contract and dates as they should without being reminded.


Jun 28, 2017 02:54 PM
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

It is important to watch those dates. They sometimes tend to be taken casually. One of the most important of course is the 3 days you have to get the good faith deposit into escrow. Missing that deadline could derail the deal before you get started.

Jun 28, 2017 03:40 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Jane Peters 

Unfortunately, as you say, some are pretty lax about contract dates. Missing the deposit would be a big red flag - there is plenty of time to make this happen if you are properly prepared.


Jun 28, 2017 05:43 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Jeff Dowler - your post is outstanding! Critical dates are not something to ignore. Your advice is something everyone should pay attention to. Anyone under contract can't assume they are safe. It's a shared responsibility to follow deadlines and know what they mean.

You wrote a terrific post and one that I hope gets featured!

Jun 29, 2017 08:24 AM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Jeff Dowler such important time lines..we count business days only in is so different between states and confusing for relocators ...great share!

Jun 30, 2017 05:32 AM

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