Despite living in this time of uncertainty and confusion, one must be aware that our contractual obligations to perform do not cease. In the event of a real estate closing that is to take place during our national crisis, mandatory shut-downs and curfews, a buyer cannot automatically presume that their closing will be extended simply due to our changing conditions in the advent of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation.
In our highly technological age, considerations of social distancing and sanitary conditions may and should be addressed by remote technological means if possible and simple accommodations related to the physical space the closing is to occur in.
To fail or refuse to close – specifically with COVID-19 concerns addressed – would put the buyer in breach, thereby exposing the buyer (unless there is a specific provision that excludes performance due to Acts of God, war, force majeure, etc.) to possible liquidated damages, loss of deposit monies and a potential suit for specific performance.
Accordingly, it is imperative to recognize that buyers simply do not have the ability to refuse to perform under contracts for the sale of real estate, in the absence of express language to the contrary, despite the dark days that our State faces due to this crisis.