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Understand the terms of a contract before signing it

By Staff | Apr 26, 2019

Mr. Feichthaler:

My wife and I signed a contract last week to sell our home, that provided a seven-day inspection period for the buyer. It was signed on Sunday, April 14. The expiration of the inspection period would have been the following Sunday of Easter weekend. We heard nothing until Monday, when the buyers said we needed to fix all sorts of minor issues or they would cancel the contract. Did the Easter holiday cause the period to be extended? Or, was the inspection period over seven calendar days after signing, on Easter day.

– Joe C.

Dear Joe:

The very important, but seldom read, “Standards for Real Estate Transactions” portion of the contract will provide the answer to your question. Most Florida contracts will have a paragraph entitled “Time,” which can be found in Paragraph “F” in the current approved contract. Generally, calendar days are used to compute time periods. However, for any period of time that ends on a weekend or national legal holiday, the period is extended to 5 p.m. the next business day.

Your buyers have until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 22, to cancel the contract to purchase, and to receive a full return of their escrow funds. To exit the contract, they would have needed to officially terminate the contract with you prior to the deadline. The buyer can ask you to agree to make repairs, but you are under no obligation to do so. The contract will continue on unless the buyer specifically terminates prior to 5 p.m. Monday.

Many issues like this all boil down to the wording in the contract. Before signing, read the terms carefully. If a buyer or seller does not understand the terms, seeking professional guidance is vital to protect your interests. Especially when one considers how significant the purchase or sale of a home can be, it is vital to know what is being committed to before signing.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 18 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.