What is a day?

I bet you learned this in PreSchool: What is a day?

When asked this question, some will immediately move to some “Pollyanna” answer of “A new opportunity”, others will respond with “The time from dawn to dusk,” or more specific, “24 hours” or “The time it takes the earth to complete one turn on it’s axis”.  And all of these are right…. and yet they are not the same.

When used in the context of a real estate contract, many deadlines specify a number of days from X.  Oy, vey.  This can open up a can of worms.  First, you have to understand not only what X is, but when it occurs.  Assuming that is clear, then you have to be able to count days.

So, let’s say X is today (11/17, 830pm) , and you have a deadline in a contract, which is 30 days from today.  The deadline is when specifically?  What date and time?  Do weekends count?  Holidays?  Heck, does TODAY count? What if the contract says the deadline is in 3 calendar days?  What if it says 3 business days?  Who’s business?  I work, well, everyday.

These are truly the things lawsuits are made of.

In our current regional sales contract, we use the calendar day system.  Day one is the day AFTER X, in other words 1 day from today is tomorrow.  And unless otherwise specified, 11:59:59pm is the latest moment of that day that is, indeed, counted as part of that date.  So, if a deadline is 30 days from today, the drop dead moment is 11:59:59pm on December 30th, 2012.

However, not everyone uses the standard regional sales contract, so I heartily encourage everyone to look closely at deadlines and make sure everyone understands.  Very often, I will email and say, “so if ratification is today, the financing deadline is Y  and the closing deadline is Z, right?  And I get confirmation, so that later no one can say that is not what they meant.  It’s a good practice.   Very often people think I am being petty or ignorant to to ask such a question,  but I find it much better to let people think what they will and avoid the potential for a misunderstand than to try to resolve one later.



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