Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Are Verbal Statements Binding in Real Estate Transactions?

Dear Monty: Are oral statements binding in real estate transactions? Seller requested 30 days after closing. She moved out before closing and has a new residence. At the conclusion, he made a verbal pact with everyone in the room. The title officer, both real estate agents, and I heard her say she would be out in 14 days. When the deadline passed, he asked for seven more days, but now that has passed. She is asking for five more days. I have made arrangements on the basis of his verbal consent. I hired painters and carpet installers and I gave notice to vacate my apartment. I will have one month extra rent and fine. All his furniture is gone. All that is left is miscellaneous stuff. Does his verbal agreement stand?

Monty’s answer: When the agents wrote the purchase agreement, the contract stated that the seller would be out in 30 days. In the states I am familiar with, oral representations are not enforceable. Despite oral representations of the extension she is now seeking, the contract appears to have no lapses.

Both real estate agents were reticent in not requesting an amendment to the contract of sale at the time of the buyer’s statement. Under the law, real estate brokers and agents have a responsibility to minimize verbal conversations such as those described in the document memorializing the event. Had this happened, you would not have suffered the financial loss that you may experience now. Most states have online resources to help. Here’s an example in my home state:

some options to consider

number 1: Contact your agent, preferably by email, and suggest that they reach out to the listing agent and ask them both to solve the problem for you. Ask for the broker’s email address as they may not be aware of the situation. It is not clear that you did this. Few real estate agents will oppose the idea. Some people will recognize that they made a mistake and help. If they waffle, consider pushing back and threatening to file a complaint with state regulators.

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number 2: Contact the seller by email (the listing agent will have this). Tell her that if her items aren’t out by a specific date and time, you’ll put them on the curb, and she can pick them up at any time. This action is a requisition, and option number 3 below is a more powerful requisition.

Sequence 3: Consider contacting your attorney and asking them to write you a letter of demand. Most people will respond to such a letter. Your attorney will review the documents and advise you on who should get the demand letter.

Number 4: As a last resort, encourage the seller. Offer him cash (apart from the lawsuit) to get his stuff removed immediately. This seems counterintuitive under the circumstances, but it can save time and be more cost-effective.

Based on the experience of this author, situations like this occur frequently in residential real estate. There are basic reasons why mistakes are common in this business. The culprits are low entry-level requirements, high agent turnover rates, and a lack of proper training and supervision. Many industry practices are flawed, and your story is an example of the financial risks that one should be wary of when buying or selling a home.


Richard Montgomery is the author of “House Money: An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home”. He advocates for industry reform and provides readers with unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty or Email him at [email protected]


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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