In a typical real estate sales contract, time is of the essence. This means that certain milestones in the sale process must be met by specific deadlines. These deadlines begin within days of the contract's execution with inspection contingency periods. Following that are deadlines for the buyer to apply for his mortgage, obtain his mortgage commitment and request repairs as a result of the inspection. The seller’s deadlines include responding to the buyer’s repair requests and, where applicable, presenting information regarding community deed restrictions and covenants. The final deadline is the closing date, which the contract specifies. If the buyer or seller misses any deadline, the parties are out of contract and the sale is in danger of not closing. The parties can avoid going out of contract by requesting an extension of the deadlines that they're unable to meet.
Determine how long an extension you need. Give yourself a cushion, if possible, in order to lessen the chances that you'll need to extend again later.
Anticipate the consequences of an extension to the other party so that you can meet his objections with a fair and reasonable compromise.
Call the other party or her agent as soon as possible to tell her you need to extend and explain why. If she resists, negotiate a compromise. Follow your conversation with an email reiterating your need to extend and, if applicable, the concessions you're willing to make in return.
Prepare an addendum to your agreement of sale. Specify which contract deadline you're extending, and state the new deadline date.
Sign the addendum.
Present the addendum to the other party for his signature.