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legalgems, Arbitrator
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10484
Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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I am building a new house in St Augustine FL we were suppose

Customer Question

Hi I am building a new house in St Augustine FL we were suppose to have our final walk thru on June 16,2016 and close on June 23,2016 on June 15 we received an email after 3pm saying that our walk thru was cancelled and our closing date was moved and we would receive a new close letter shortly it is now Monday June 20 and we still have no close letter and no awnsers as to what is going on or when there may possibly be a new close date we are also 7 days away from being without a place to live as the rental property we are in is sold and we need to vacate for the new owners please is there anything we can do? thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry to hear this; was this a "time is of the essence" clause in the contract?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe so
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

OK thank you;

So if a contract is delayed because of a condition precedent (basically a condition that must be performed before the contract becomes binding - ie financing is typically a condition precedent) then the contract simply expires, unless the contract provides for its extension or if the parties agree to extend it so the condition precedent can be met.

If there is no time is of the essence clause, the court will expect reasonable delays, given the common complexities in real estate development (ie delay in material beyond the owner's control, etc). However, if there is a time is of the essence clause, the courts will typically enforce the close date, because the parties contracted to that and the builder accepted the risk. This means that if the builder does not meet the close date (unless due to weather, for example) then the buyer can sue for damages. Damages include those expenses that are reasonably foreseeable and proximately caused by the breach- such as hotel expenses during the delay, storage costs for personal items, additional moving costs (moving items from storage to the residence).

But other than suing after the fact, there is not much one can do- because, for example, if one sought an injunction (ie specific performance to complete) those cases take several weeks to get before the court - unless there is an emergency, and the definition of emergency is narrowly defined -ie physical/emotional harm, irreparable damage, etc.

I would suggest reviewing your contract to verify there is a time is of the essence clause; if not, getting in writing from the builder a specific timeline as to when the house will be finished.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

You are most welcome; hopefully the transaction will be completed without undue delay.

If there is a time is of the essence clause, you can contact an attorney to help speed up the process (if they fear a suit for damages, they will generally prioritize that particular property).

Kindly rate positively if no further questions. Thank you!

Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for using JA!

Please leave a positive rating if the above information is useful. Thank you and take care.