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Made a verbal agreement with homeowner to purchase his home.

Oneonta, AL |

We were waiting for an answer from the bank on approval of sale on our current home. He gave us until Friday the following week to give him an answer. After contacting the bank and receiving approval of sale on our house, we contacted the seller at which time he told us he was selling it to someone else. Now our house is three weeks from closing and we have no house to buy. At the time the agreement was made, the seller, me and my husband, and my mother were all present and understood the terms of this verbal agreement. Now after contacting him, he is trying to act like we never gave him an answer but really someone offered him more money after he made the agreement with us and backed out on his word and the agreement we made. Do we have any legal rights?

Attorney Answers 4


No. There are some contracts that MUST be in writing due to a law every state has called "the statute of frauds." That law exists because some contracts are very important, and buying real estate is one of those kinds of contracts.

Oral real estate contracts aren't enforceable, nor are they a good idea. This is one of the biggest purchases anyone ever does, and they're very complex transactions, so it's foolish not to get it all in writing.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

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A. Wilson Webb

A. Wilson Webb


Based upon your stated facts, your Oral Agreement is wholly Unenforceable!


You should not be buying a house, the biggest investment you will ever make, without a written contract. A judge or jury has no clue who is telling the truth when nothing is written. You technically can have a verbal contract, but it may be very expensive and time consuming to win it. I would recommend buying a different house and avoiding the stress and costs.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Alabama. Responses are based solely on Alabama law unless stated otherwise.

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If it was verbal and never reduced to a writing you are out of luck.

There are many factors that can affect how best to handle this matter and the best advise is usually to hire an attorney immediately. Unfortunately the advice above is a guess that is based on very scanty facts. Circumstances of all sorts can change the ultimate answer you need. If you want to know how best to handle the situation, make an appointment with an attorney and get good solid advise based on more exact facts. The money spent might give you the peace of mind you need. The information provided is not intended as legal advice that can be relied on in part because we do not have the entire the situation. No Attorney/Client relationship is intended, implied or created. We are a debt relief agency and we help people file for relief under the bankruptcy laws.

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The statute of frauds refers to the requirement that certain kinds of contracts be memorialized in a signed writing with sufficient content to evidence the contract.

Traditionally, the statute of frauds requires a signed writing in the following circumstances:
Contracts in consideration of marriage. This provision covers prenuptial agreements.
Contracts that cannot be performed within one year. However, contracts of indefinite duration do not fall under the statute of frauds regardless of how long the performance actually takes.
Contracts for the transfer of an interest in land. This applies not only to a contract to sell land but also to any other contract in which land or an interest in it is disposed, such as the grant of a mortgage or an easement.
Contracts by the executor of a will to pay a debt of the estate with his own money.
Contracts for the sale of goods involving a purchase price of $500 ($50 in Alberta, Canada) or more (proposed Amended UCC § 2-201(1) requires a writing for contracts for the sale of goods of a price of $5000 or more).
Contracts in which one party becomes a surety (acts as guarantor) for another party's debt or other obligation.

This can be remembered by the mnemonic "MY LEGS": Marriage, contracts for more than one Year, Land, Executor (or Estate), Goods ($500 or more), Surety; or Marriage, one Year, Land, Executor (or Estate), Guarantor, Sale.

The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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