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What is the meaning of an on or about date?

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Q. I am selling my house where I have lived for more than 40 years and downsizing to a 2-bedroom apartment. The buyer and I signed a contract stating that the ‘on or about’ closing date would be July 22nd. I hired a moving company for that date and packed up all of my possessions. The buyer does not yet have lender clearance to close so that date came and went without us closing! I am living out of boxes with no closing date set. What do I do now?

A. As your attorney probably explained to you when you were reviewing the contract of sale together prior to signing, an “on or about” closing date in a contract is not a date certain. It is possible you could have closed on July 22nd or about’ one month later, meaning up to August 22nd, without being in violation of the contract. This additional 30 or 31 day period is available to both Seller and Purchaser, if one or both are not ready to close on the date specified. For example, if you as Seller had violations or liens against the property and needed more time to resolve these obstacles, you would receive an additional month. If the Purchaser did not yet receive lender clearance to close, the Purchaser could also get additional time to resolve that issue.

You will (likely) close very soon – as soon as the Purchaser’s obstacle is removed. Schedule an appointment with your attorney to review the status of the transaction and receive more information as to when closing may be scheduled. However, until your attorney schedules the closing and confirms your availability to attend, please do not call the moving company again – or cancel your PSEG, National Grid, cable, or telephone accounts. Wait to do so until your attorney tells you there is a ‘date certain.’

Good luck!

W. Zehava Schechter, Esq. specializes in estate planning, administration and litigation; real estate law; and contracts and business law. Her law practice is located on Long Island. Please send your comments to Her podcast, the LI Law Podcast may be downloaded on itunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. The podcast website is:

No column is a substitute for competent legal advice. Please consult with the attorney of your choice concerning specific legal questions you may have.

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