The privilege of living in Florida comes with the cost of having to deal with the occasional disruptions caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. If that disruption comes around the time of a scheduled real estate closing, being aware of the pertinent legal rights and obligations can ease the stress on all involved.
Approaching storms often disrupt travel plans or availability of homeowners insurance, and possibly availability of needed approvals, pre-closing repairs, mortgage loan underwriting, or closing services.
Fortunately, most Florida residential real estate contracts provide relief for these problems. Under the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar (“FR/BAR”) Residential Contract For Sale And Purchase and FR/BAR “AS IS” Residential Contract For Sale And Purchase forms, the contract provides for an automatic extension of the closing date if any “services essential for Closing” are unavailable because of extreme weather (or other issues within the definition of “Force Majeure”). See paragraph 5(b) and Standard G on either contract. The extension is for a reasonable time up to 7 days after the disruption ends, with the caveat that if the disruption lasts more than 30 days past the closing date, either buyer or seller may terminate the contract.
Similarly, under the NABOR Sales Contract (Residential Improved Property), if a “Casualty” (e.g. fire, flood, extreme weather) prevents the buyer from obtaining insurance on the property at a reasonable rate or causes “services essential for closing” to be unavailable, there is an automatic extension up to 5 days after the disruption ends, but if the disruption continues 30 days after the Casualty, either buyer or seller may terminate the contract. See Standard D, paragraph 2.e(ii). On the other hand, the NABOR Sales Contract-As Is (Residential Improved Property) form grants the exception only when the buyer is unable to get insurance due to extreme weather; there is no provision to delay the closing if other essential services are disrupted. See Standard N.
If the buyer is using a mortgage loan for the purchase, be aware that even where the contract provides for an automatic extension, a mortgage lender may require a written agreement to extend the closing.