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2011-03-25 22:06:15

Glossary of "Real Estate Contract" Terms


          Usually the exact day a legal document is signed.

          Though a date is not essential for the validity of most real estate contracts, it has considerable evidentiary value for proving a deed was delivered on the date specified, determining priority between unrecorded deeds, establishing time limits for performance (such as “seller has 48 hours to accept from the date of this offer”) and proving whether the statute of limitations has run.

          If the parties to a purchase agreement intend the closing to take place on a certain date (with no extensions of time), they should specify the date and expressly declare that “time is of the essence.”

          To avoid confusion, it is best to be quite specific about terms stating, for instance, that “the seller pays up to and including March 28.”  A period running “to” a certain date does not include that date unless the words to and including are used.  Rather than saying “to 12:00 A.M.” and creating doubt as to whether it is midnight or noon, use 11:30 A.M. or 11:30 P.M.  Rather than saying “a 90-day period” state a specific termination date as to avoid arguments whether it is calendar days or 30-day months and whether the first and last days are counted.

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