Can a seller decline a sale after learning true value of property and real property?
Garage sale, seller loses his job, puts his home for $70K, worth $170K and rare piece of art marked $250, worth $2,500. We agree to the sale. I leave to get a cashier's check. Upon my return, seller has learned true value of home and art, pulls offer. Can I sue?
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No, you do not have standing for a civil suit. The only thing you had before leaving to go get the cashier's check was a verbal agreement with the seller. Verbal agreements are nonenforceable. You didn't have a contract with the seller, only an agreement that he would sell and you would buy. The laws of real property require an offer, an acceptance, a contract, and a closing of the contract. The terms and conditions of the contract must be very specifically spelled out in a written contract which you did not have. Further, the selling of the home would require a legal description of the home on a platt. This legal description was not obtained. The contract also serves to transfer ownership of the property. A verbal agreement is not a contract.
You can always sue. The question is whether you have a valid claim. First, verbal agreements are valid unless there are circumstances where they are not. The classic example here is in the sale of real estate. The sale of real estate generally comes under the purview of the statute of frauds. This means that contracts for real estate must be in writing. Since the agreement on the house was not in writing it is unenforceable and therefore a law suit would be a waste unless you just like to visit the courthouse.
The verbal agreement for the piece of art may well be enforceable. In defense the seller would seek to void the contract based on mutual mistake. The issues would be left to the fact finder.
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