Buying or Selling a Home/Settlement Date Change


I have a question about my rights as a seller when it comes to Settlement and a request to change the date.  Settlement is only a few days away, I’ve completed all requested repairs and inspections since the home inspection a couple of weeks ago, and I just received the following note from my Real Estate Agent.

“DON'T PANIC   We have hit a small snag and the title company needs to order a location drawing.  … This is at the Buyer's expense. Unfortunately, it will cause a delay in settlement.  The location drawing and receipt of the well documents from the county should be completed by (10 days later than the purchase agreement states settlement will be).  … my guess is that the title company and the lender may need a day or two extra after the documents are received. …  “

I’m not at all panicky, but I’m very frustrated and a little angry.

The Title company initiated the delay by telling the buyer’s agent that they are going to need an extension to determine the location of the well.  As I understand it, a well survey is needed to provide the lender and owner with a title insurance policy that does not take exception to the well and access to it.  Why this is just coming up now is a mystery to me, and a source of great frustration, but the survey company stated they’ll need until by (10 days later than the purchase agreement states settlement will be) to complete the work and obtain the necessary well permit copies from the County.

I have a few questions that I hope you can answer.  First, what are options with this request.? I look at it as a change in a contract, and I don’t feel obligated to agree to it.  I would think the Title company could use a different survey company to get the answers they need faster, or provide a temporary waiver or something.  Second, is this a breech of contract that should be entitled to consideration?  I agreed to pay for a Radon remediation system, even though they did the test without my knowledge and I would think they could offer that money back as compensation for my having to come up with an additional mortgage payment I hadn’t planned for.  And, finally, is there a time when a Real Estate Attorney is better suited to deal with closing situations than an Agent?  My agent seems to be more comfortable with buyer’s issues, and I don’t feel like she’s representing me well.  I’m very concerned about more last-minute “don’t panics” up to and including settlement, especially since the buyers, buyer's agent, and title company president are friends.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I would appreciate any thoughts you may have about it.

Good Morning Joe - It is an agent's duty to provide you with all the necessary information for you to make a decision that best fits your needs based on a current situation. If you don't fully understand what, and why, a situation is happening you should contact your agent or their Designated Broker/Responsible Individual/Office owner and ask more questions until you are satisfied with the answer. Remember, this agent represents you and only you, and according to the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics Article 1 a REALTOR shall always keep their clients best interests as their priority. Failure to do so would be an Ethics Violation subject to board review. That said, if you do not feel the agent is properly representing you then reach out to their manager/broker/owner first. There are always issues which arise in a transaction no matter how professional your agent may be. How they deal with these issues is the difference.

Next, check the terms and conditions of the contract. The contract will state what your options are in certain events which are typical to a real estate transaction. The contract will also provide remedies and time frames in which a party is to perform. There may even be some financial opportunities when extensions to the close of escrow (settlement) are requested unilaterally (by one party, not mutual) which may place a burden upon the other party, and, even without burden it may provide you with an opportunity to negotiate additional terms which may alter the terms so that this situation becomes 'mutually beneficial'... such as a per diam (per day) payment for each day the buyer doesn't close beyond the original close of escrow/settlement date. In this situation a buyer may pay $100 per day for the extension, or in some circumstances it may be mutually agreed that the earnest money becomes non-refundable. Of course you always have to consider the situation, the possibly consequences, and the added burden to you, personally and financially. Say for instance, if this situation is common in your state, then you need to consider if you negotiate this could you possibly lose the buyer? What would that cause or take to remedy? How much longer on the market? Starting the marketing process all over after being off the market in escrow... etc. Is it worth it to risk losing the buyer? and of course this all with the understanding that the contract possibly could allow the buyer to walk with their earnest money should they disapprove of the information discovered during the well location drawing. In AZ, we have a Well Water Disclosure and Seller Property Disclosure which discloses and alerts all parties to this situation in advance.

Finally, if you feel you may have been misled, and your agents broker/owner does not meet with your satisfaction, you can always seek an attorney to learn additional remedies. However, this is usually time consuming and expensive, and unless you suffer a loss, then is probably not the option you desire to embark upon. You should always 'panic' (used as a frame of thought) when something happens that you were not previously anticipating. This is your alert mechanism indicating something just isn't right. Kudos! It isn't, and it certainly sounds like you deserve more information if you are not completely with 100% understanding of why this is required, what are the possibly outcomes of the drawing both good and bad, and what does the contract say are your remedies should the buyer decide to back out? What will this do also, to your opportunity and ability to sell the property to someone else should the buyer have the ability to walk? Don't settle for less than 100% understanding.

Please remember I am not an attorney, and this is not to be considered legal advice, rather it is real estate information that any experienced REALTOR should be able to provide you. If you feel you have been wronged, then seek the advice of an attorney. Let me know if I can be of further service. - Todd

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National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics and Professional Standards * Contract Questions: Arizona Real Estate Purchase Contract, Exclusive Buyer Broker Contracts, Listing Contracts and associated contract documentation (addenda) as it relates to boilerplate, covenants, contingencies, procedures and procedures. * ARMLS Arizona Regional Multiple Listing questions * Real Estate Professional Standards and Practices, Ethics, Obligations, Duties * Agency relationships in Arizona, Procurring Cause * Questions typicaly arising during the listing period * Questions typically arising during the escrow period * Questions about working with a real estate agent/REALTOR * Questions Related to New Home Builders


National Association of REALTORS Board of Director (2011, 2012) Arizona Real Estate Salesperson License (1991-1995), Arizona Real Estate Brokers License (1995-Present), Arizona Association of REALTORS Board of Directors (2008-2013), Arizona Association of REALTORS Professional Standards Committee (2008-2012), AAR Certified NAR Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Instructor, Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS President (2012) Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Board of Directors (2008-2013), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Grievance Committee Chairperson (1998-2007), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Bylaws Committee (2008-2010), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Education Committee (2007-09), Arizona Association of REALTORS Forms Committee - Residential Purchase Contract (2005), Arizona Association of REALTORS Forms Committee - Residential Rental Agreement (2008), Arizona Association of REALTORS Forms Committee - Buyer Broker Agreement (2009), Arizona Association of REALTORS Presidents Advisory Group, Road to Professionalism (2009), Arizona Association of REALTORS GRI Curriculum Review Committee (2009), Arizona Department of Real Estate, Commissioner's Education Advisory Group Sub-Panel B (2010) Arizona Department of Real Estate, Commissioner's Statute and License Review Committee (2007)

National Association of REALTORS, Arizona Association of REALTORS, Arizona Real Estate Educators Association (AZREEA), Arizona Regional Multiple Listing System (ARMLS), American Notary Association, Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS (SEVRAR), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS Women's Council of REALTORS (2010-Present), Phoenix Association of REALTORS (1994-2000, 2005-2009), Scottsdale Association of REALTORS (1994-2000, 2005-2009), Maricopa/Glendale Association of REALTORS (1994-2000, 2005-2009),

"Real Estate in 2008"- Lifebushido Publishing (Contributory Author), Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS "SEVRAR Magazine", Internet Crusade, RealTown ListServe,, Active Rain

- Certified NAR Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Instructor, Graduate REALTOR Institute (1993), Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE), Over 100 Hours of annual real estate continuing education, Annual Ethics and Professional Standards Development Workshops as required by the National Association of REALTORS, Approx. 36 hours of NAR Code of Ethics training annually, Numerous IDW, Seminars and Train the Trainer programs, Business Management Degree - 1981

Awards and Honors
2009 REALTOR of the Year Award, Southeast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS (10,000+ Members), Double Platinum Production Award ($45,000,000 Sales Volume)- Keller Williams Realty Int'l (2001), Top 15 Sales Production Keller Williams Realty International (2001), Top 5 Sales Producation Keller Williams Realty Southwest Region (2001), Top Recruiter Award - Keller Williams Realty Int'l, SW Region (2002), Who's Who in U.S. Executive (1983), Who's Who in U.S. Real Estate Professionals (2007)

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