Home Buying in 01748>Question Details

Lilt, Home Seller in 01748

If a Seller emails a Buyer's Agent stating expressly, "I accept the Buyer's offer,for $xxx," is there a legal contract?

Asked by Lilt, 01748 Sat Feb 27, 2010

Jurisdiction is Virginia. Facts: Buyer emailed initial offer, including initialed contract in pdf form. Seller counteroffered. Buyer then made second offer via email, including 1 page pdf with new price. Seller communicated verbal acceptance to Buyer's Agent. Approximately 4 hours later, Seller emailed express statement of acceptance to Buyer's Agent and copied Buyer. Ten minutes later, Buyer's Agent replied to Seller's acceptance email stating Buyer is withdrawing the offer. Five minutes later Buyer's Agent emailed pdf of voided contract. Forty minutes later Buyer emailed Seller to explain their change in preference. Subsequently, Seller emailed Buyer's Agent and Buyer that the Parties had a meeting of the minds prior to the withdrawal and Seller expects Buyer to proceed with the contract.

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You have received some excellent advice here. Another colleague in a different state recently shared that an email "meeting of the minds" was upheld by law as full acceptance.

Of course, unless the contract had zero contingencies, in California, I understand it would have been void once buyer changed his mind and communicated it to the seller.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 25, 2013
And the price is right, too!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 1, 2010
Thank you to all who have answered the question. I have learned a good deal. Your responses have helped me frame the correct questions to ask local professionals.

This is a good Service.

Lilt
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 1, 2010
As soon as an intitial offer receives a counter-offer, that offer becomes null and void, unless and until a new offer has been accepted and signed by both parties. By "express statement of acceptance" do you mean a signature on a contract? Unless both parties have signed a new contract, there is no "meeting of the minds."
I did not get from what you have written whether or not you meant they have both signed a contract (or offer as it is in Mass.) or if they were simply emails stating their intentions. If they were simply emails, they are probably not binding. If both parties signed contracts, that is a different situation. Also, was there a deposit involved and did any change hands?

You should check with a qualfied real estate attorney who practices in Virginia.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 1, 2010
Home seller:

My answer is are you willing to pay an attorney over $400 dollars an hour to get an answer? Most attorneys I speak to are on the fence about the validity of email in MA courts. In my opinion nothing is executed until both parties have signed an updated and final offer. Until that point it is not final. I wish you the best. T
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 1, 2010
What's the evidence of this "meeting of the minds?"

My guess is that, unless the contract includes the emails as addenda, you need a fully signed-around contract to be executory. But, frankly, I don't know that to be a fact.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
from what information you provide- if Virginia is where the property is, you need to ask an atty. or agent familiar with VA. contract laws. Best of luck, John
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
You should see an attorney for legal advice. Looks like the buyer does not want to buy and you want to force them to buy. If there are home inspection contingencies the buyer may be able to back out depending on inspection report . In some contracts there is an option to back out before receiving association documents ,
You need to see an attorney to interpret your contract and follow state laws.
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
Lilt - you can consult an attorney as suggested by other agents.

If the Purchase & Sales Agreement is signed by both parties then you have a contract.

If no Purchase & Sales Agreement signed by both parties then there is an out.

Sorry, for you inconvenience - te lesson to learn here is "Until closing - it is never a done deal"
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
Lilt you definitely need an Attorney. If you had not yet given a deposit I am not sure what they can really do to hold you to it. Was the offer contingent upon receipt of 1,000? Where is that check? All they can really expect from you is that and it doesn't make sense to sue someone for $1,000.
Good Luck
Heidi Zizza
mdm realty
Web Reference: http://www.mdmrealtyinc.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
An attorney is needed, but even then the answer may not be that simple.
An accepted offer is unsually a signature on the offer itself. That can then be emailed or faxed. Just replying in an email may not be the same, but is a form of acceptance. The cost of pursuing this answer may be great. Carefully weigh the cost vs moving on to another buyer. The fact that the property garnered an offer is encouraging and there may be another buyer in the near future.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
Lilt,

True that this is clearly a legal question and so only an attorney can actually answer it.

My impression is that there was no actual contract in place, and therefore nothing binding for the Seller to hold the Buyer to as an obligation.. A Contract requires Both Parties to have Signed THE AGREEMENT. It doesn't sound like this took place, and the Seller is trying to use an email with "we accept your offer", in place of a full reply with signatures on the contract by both parties.

I could be wrong but my impression is that there is NO EXECUTED CONTRACT. Emails alone, without the signatures of BOTH PARTIES on the CONTRACT, does not to me represent a binding AGREEMENT. A meeting of the minds is not a Contract.

So ... by all means check with a local real estate attorney. But if it were me and there was ONE set of signatures on that contract and it wasn't MY signature then I wouldn't worry about it.

Good luck!

Jeff
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 28, 2010
You'll need to consult with an attorney for legal questions. Sit down with your buyers agent & their broker and go over everything & bring all documentation to a qualified attorney for proper advice on how to proceed.

Hope that helps, check back and let us know how you make out,
Web Reference: http://www.MedfordHouse.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 27, 2010
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