When Boston real estate is bought and sold, in Beacon Hill or anywhere else on downtown Boston, it doesn’t happen instantly. There’s a period of time known as the “closing”, and there are a number of things that need to happen in this 30-45 day (average) window. 

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 74% of sales ended up closing on time. The other 26% closed after the expected closing date. Delays can be costly for everyone. It is costly to maintain your current Back Bay condo for sale while you’re waiting for it to sell or be purchased, both sides could be keeping household items in storage, or the buyer or seller could be living out of hotels. Then there’s the hassle of rescheduling movers and all of the other tasks that go along with changing residences. 

Some reasons for closing delays are preventable, but a surprising number of Boston real estate agents don’t see them coming. As a buyer or seller, it pays to be informed, so here are the Top 5 reasons for closing delays, and how to prevent them. 

Top 5 Reasons for Real Estate Closing Delays

Mortgage issues.

Trouble with obtaining financing is by far the most common reason for the closing date to be extended. The NAR survey found that this issue affects 38% of buyers. In fact, the buyer’s main job during the closing period is to keep their mortgage lender happy and supply them with all the information they need — from pay stubs and tax returns to home insurance quotes. It’s just the best way to prevent delays. Unfortunately there isn’t much the seller can do to ensure the buyer is providing paperwork in a timely manner. But the buyer’s agent can help keep tabs on the buyer for sure.

Home appraises too low. 

The Boston real estate market is cooling off and therefore provides the occasional surprise low appraisal, especially as banks nervous about the Boston condo market retaining its value. When an appraisal comes in low, it is important for the agents to jump in quickly, providing the appraisal company with comps, making a quick challenge to see if they can get it adjusted before the closing day arrives.  

Home inspection turns up issues.

The home inspection is an important step in closing on a home, and most buyers will make their offer contingent on inspection. If the home inspector finds that repairs need to be made, the closing date might be pushed out to allow the sellers time to do the work. To avoid this potential delay, seller’s agents encourage the seller to offer the buyer a credit in lieu of repairs.

Titling/deed issues. 

While the sellers are making repairs and the buyers are finalizing their loan, a title agent will be busy clearing the home’s title to be transferred to the new owner. They may turn up issues — for example, old liens or claims to ownership — that take extra time to be cleared up, which may occasionally result in a longer closing time. Sellers should be available and responsive to questions from the title agent, and be prepared to take steps to clear their title. 

Other contingencies stated in the contract. 

Contingencies are ways for buyers to back out of the offer if certain events or circumstances occur. These typically cover home inspection and title issues as well as financing, but a buyer may also make the contract contingent on the sale of their current home. Talk to your real estate agent and be sure you understand all the contingencies in the offer before you enter a contract with the buyer.

Bottom Line

Some closing delays can’t be prevented, but having a knowledgable and experienced real estate agent on your side is the surest way to a smooth and timely closing. Don’t have agent representation? Check out our team’s credentials — Boston Real Estate Google Reviews

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Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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