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Breaking down the real meaning of these 4 contract terms with Attorney Anthony A. Nozzolillo, Esq.


When it comes to a Real Estate closing transaction, whether involving a routine residential dwelling purchase, or a complex commercial transaction involving a multi-unit building, nothing is more crucial than the Contract of Sale executed between the Buyer and Seller.

As the saying goes, the “devil is in the details,” and Attorney Anthony A. Nozzolillo, Esq. is committed to helping break down common terms and misconceptions seen in those contracts.

A carefully drafted contract leaves nothing to chance; no room for interpretation; no potential for confusion. Pursuant to New York State Law, where the purchase/sale of real property is concerned, the “he said/she said” does not exist and cannot be enforced. Total deference is made to the ink on the paper.

“Where a Real Estate Contract of Sale is concerned, the obvious terms—such as the ‘purchase price,’ ‘closing date,’ whether a mortgage/lending component is involved, how much “downpayment” is to be remitted at time of contract—easily present themselves,” Nozzolillo explained. “However, it is the outlier terms that dwell in a realm of disguise, which are truly the most significant.”

“On or about” / “On or before”

The term “on or about” or “on or before” almost always precede the actual closing date reflected in the contract. These prepositional phrases have a significant impact on the actual date for one party’s legal standing to compel the other party to perform under the terms of the contract.

“As is”

A property that is being sold “as is” also has different interpretations that often differ significantly from how the actual legal and contractual meaning of the phrase applies. Unless specified to the contrary in the contract, “as is” has nothing to do with title issues, open permits, or violations. Rather, it solely attaches itself to the structural and esthetical condition(s) of the home.

“This contract shall bind any/all heirs, beneficiaries, issues, etc.”

Other provisions dictate “this contract shall bind any/all heirs, beneficiaries, issues, etc.,” mandating that even if one of the initial contracting parties shall unfortunately pass during the contract stage, any/all of their heirs, beneficiaries, etc. are to step into their shoes and can be legally obligated to complete the closing transaction.


There are contractual terms that allow a Seller to remain in the home after closing has taken place and title has been legally transferred to the Buyer. Referred to as “post-possession,” the fundamental legal relationship created when this occurs as between the Buyer and Seller, especially how liability can be shifted during this time (should something such as a fire, flood, or the like befall the home) is a “whole new quasi-contract” unto itself.

“All in all, many of these terms are used far too often, but explained and understood far too seldom,” Nozzolillo said. “Paramount to my practice is my ideology of being a person before an attorney, so my attorney/client interaction whenever a contract signing is concerned involves me breaking down intricate and enigmatic terms, to their constituent core. This is where I have learned to excel and why I make certain that any and all of my clients feel self-assured that they are placing their trust in an Attorney that assures they are 100% in the know.”

Learn more about  Anthony A. Nozzolillo, Esq. by visiting  nozzolillo.com, calling 516-600-9750 or emailing info@nozzolillo.com.