robnjesk, Home Buyer in Lake Los Angeles, CA

Is a non-signed agreement for the purchase of a house a legally binding contract?

Asked by robnjesk, Lake Los Angeles, CA Tue Nov 12, 2013

Approximately 10 years ago my husband and I were sent an email by my then husbands boss regarding the purchase price of the house that we are currently living and that email not only states the price but it says we need to get together to sign a contract. Our rent before the purchase price was stated was 550.00 then the next month went up to 929.00. Before we could get a contract signed my husband had a falling out with his boss. We have paid 929.00 for 10 years and have paid over and above the quoted purchase price. Do we have a legally binding agreement if we take him to court or could we lose our house?

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Answers

8
Hi Robnjesk,

I completly agree Dan.

Typically, in order to be enforceable a contract must involve the following elements:

1) A "Meeting of the Minds" (Mutual Consent)
2) Offer and Acceptance
3) Mutual Consideration (The mutual exchange of something of value)
4) Performance or Delivery
5) Good Faith (It is implicit within all contracts that the parties are acting in good faith.)
6) No Violation of Public Policy

You should seek the advice of a lawyer for a definitive legal answer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 12, 2013
robnjesk,
Great question for an attorney. The law is not what we specialize in there and at the heart of your question is a legal matter. It's going to come down to what each side can prove and what the law considers proof. I wouldn't wait any longer or pay any more before I got this in front of an attorney.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 12, 2013
One more thought. You've been paying all these years, but in theory your payment will have been part principle and part interest. Exactly how much, if not declared will come down to what you, the sellers and potentially the court can negotiate.
Flag Tue Nov 12, 2013
Real estate Contracts are not verbal, they have to be signed and terms accepted by both parties.You need to talk to his ex boss.If you do not feel comfortable let someone contact him on your behalf.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 30, 2014
Generally, all real estate contracts must be in writing. However, if you believe you have a case, you should consult with an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 13, 2013
Generally, all real estate contracts must be in writing. However, if you believe you have a case, you should consult with an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 13, 2013
You do need to speak with an attorney to get a legal opinion. I suppose a case could be made for it to be binding since the intent of both parties was to adhere to it given behavior, but in the end since it calls for the contract to be signed and it isn't it would seem unlikely.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 13, 2013
Go speak to an attorney, however you did not sign a contract and without a signed contract my guess is that you've wasted 10 years and a lot of money. Double check with an attorney to see if you can enforce an email, but be prepared to find out you've got no legal claim to the property.

What matters in real estate is properly signed contracts everything else is essentially idle conversation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 13, 2013
The answer is NO. In California, all real estate contracts must be in writing. Verbal commitments are not enforceable. Since the email you reference says the offer is contingent upon signing a contract and no contract was ever signed, there is no contract. This is a broker's opinion, I agree Steve and Dan, you should have this reviewed by an attorney for a legal opinion.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 13, 2013
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