Home Selling in Los Angeles>Question Details

Omar Reyes, Real Estate Pro in Riverside, CA

CA seller didn't initial or signed the Original PC but did so on the counter offer which was accepted. Is the contract Valid?

Asked by Omar Reyes, Riverside, CA Wed Oct 10, 2012

Help the community by answering this question:


Thank you all for the help! Really appreciate it very much.
To update. Buyer agreed to cancel. Seller is thrilled he didn't have to sell, I'm out of commission :-(. Oh well, maybe next year :-)...
I guess the bottom line was that signatures or not, one can involve a lawyer, depending on the value of the deal and even at a high cost, to argue the validity of this agreement.
Lesson learned... Make sure seller wants to sell before signing any contracts, counters or even verbal agreements.
Best wishes to all!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 12, 2012
Nobody here's an attorney, right?

As a practical matter, it's hard enough to enforce a properly signed contract if the parties are unwilling to close, let alone one that's questionable.

I do not subscribe to journals of real estate law, but all of the cases I've heard about that have found their way to a judge or arbitrator have been decided less on the preparation of the contract and more on the intent of the parties and the harm that non-performance has caused.

Frankly, I think there's an argument that by signing the counter-offer addendum, you are agreeing to all of the terms in the underlying contract. I wouldn't bet on that holding up in court, however.

I think if we look at contracts less like binding instruments and more like a written representation of an agreement between the parties, we'll also realize that enforcing contracts can be a difficult and time-consuming process.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 11, 2012
Just technicalities now. For myself, to be thorough, I would prepare an official cancellation. That way, whether signed or unsigned paperwork, you have everyone's clear understanding, and there are no lingering questions.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 11, 2012
This is rather sloppy work by both Realtors®. It is fairly common in our business that signatures are missed on one document or another, but since the counter was signed, and if you have opened escrow the intent of both parties seems obvious. I am not sure at what stage of the transaction you are that you are worried about signatures. You can certainly get the contract signed now.
Web Reference: http://www.homejane.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 10, 2012
Can a seller cancel an offer to purchase after signing?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2014
The purchase contract outlines ALL the terms and conditions of the sale and MUST be signed by all sellers and all buyers.

The counter is just an adjunct to the purchase agreement. It usually only address items like price, and closing date.

The purchae agreement is the real binding contact and must be signed by all parties. If it s not, their is no deal.

Your lender will even require a fully executed purchase agreement for funding, so again if the purchase agreement is not fully executed you have no deal!

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 28, 2012
Sounds like this seller is slightly savvy and basically took advantage of YOU AND the buyer...
He KNEW he should have signed the original PC and if he didn't, it was your job to tell him to sign and THEN he could also send a counter back at a higher price that ALSO has to be signed.
Obviously he had NO problem signing THAT...
If the buyer accepted the higher price and THEN this seller decided NOT to sell...then he had this..
"I don't think I want to sell" idea in his head for a while and was looking for a way out and basically now just wanted to rent..but didn't have the heart to tell you this.

If the buyer is ok with this and is moving on...consider yourself lucky.
Technically, there never was a fully executed contract and escrow and the buyer's lender, and your brokerage and theirs would have all demanded a fully executed contract be submitted in order to continue escrow and close.
I would still send over a cancellation of offer to all sides to make sure all parties understand this is cancelled and put this to bed...or if one or both sides won't sign anything else at this point..then try to at least get something in writing via an email, etc..that the transaction is completely cancelled
so you can put this to bed. And keep that for your records.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 13, 2012
The contract is only valid once it has been fully executed. Lenders cannot initiate a loan without a signed contract, and escrow and brokers will require signed contracts in order to open escrow and proceed with the file. I would hold off on spending any money (ordering an appraisal, or inspections) until you have the purchase contract and all other supporting documents signed and in hand.

You mentioned below the seller decided not to sell after all, I would issue a withdrawl of offer since escrow was never opened..
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 12, 2012
Hi Omarpreyes:

As noted below, this is a question for an attorney. But, regardless of the legal realities, don't let this keep you up at night. Just take the non-initialed docs back the the person/people who did not initial and ask him/her/them to do it now.

If you want out of the contract, then you really ought to talk to that lawyer, because walking away from the deal over a technicality like this could be very dangerous.

Ron Rovtar
Boulder, CO
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 11, 2012
I am not a lawyer, but a contract is a contract and is enforceable if accepted by both parties even if not signed. It can get a bit messy to prove however.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 11, 2012
A contract with missing signatures is not legally binding or enforceable.

Many of us follow the same practice, especially in a multiple offer situation. Once we’ve accepted a Counter, we then go back and get all parties to sign the original PA. We do this because if we don’t, there is no deal. This practice often confuses sellers because the details in the accepted counter are different than the original offer. We explain the “Subject To” clause on page 8 and, after checking the “subject to” check box, have them sign the original PA. If they refuse to sign, the deal is dead.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 11, 2012
Thank you all.
Seller wanted to counter before signing the original PC.
He signed the counter which was accepted.
Right after buyer communicated back his acceptance, seller decided not to sell due to low personal reasons He'll be renting the place for now.
Escrow was never opened and no EMD was sent.
I talked to buyer and he's fine with dropping his offer and move forward looking for another home. An e-mail from him confirming this.
The question: Was this contract inforsable by buyer even with no signatures from seller on original PC? Should a cancel contract be used? Or since buyer consented by e-mail to cancel be enough?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 11, 2012
Seller must initial and sign all pages of the purchase agreement counter offers and any and all addendums in order for these documents to be considered valid/fully executed.

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 10, 2012
It's not valid until original purchase contract is initialed and signed by seller and buyer along with counter offers.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 10, 2012
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