When it comes to purchasing a home or other real estate, there is a reason why any real estate attorney will tell you to “get it in writing.”
That reason is….
The Statute of Frauds.
The Statute of Frauds (occasionally referred to in this post as the “Statute”) is the legal concept that requires certain contracts to be in writing. While the law accepts oral agreements that meet all the requirements of a formal contract as enforceable, the idea behind the Statute of Frauds is that some contracts are so important, or so susceptible to fraud, that they must be in writing in order to be enforceable.
Some (not all) agreements subject to the statute of frauds include:
- promises made in connection with marriage;
- contracts that cannot be completed in less than one year;
- contracts for the sale of land and leases over one year;
- an agreement to pay the debt of another.
There are some exceptions of course.
Most notably, for real estate transactions, an oral agreement can be enforceable if there is partial performance by one of the parties. For example, if the seller partially performs an oral agreement to sell land by conveying the deed to the prospective purchaser, or if a buyer partially performs by paying part of the purchase price or making improvements on the land, that agreement may be enforceable. In general, however, to be enforceable, real estate transactions must be in writing.
The Writing Required.
Although the Statute of Frauds requires that the agreement be in writing, any kind of writing will be adequate to satisfy the Statute. The writing need not be long and complicated. In fact, it can be something as simple as a bullet-point list or an email exchange. It must, however, meet certain minimum requirements. To meet the Statute of Frauds, the writing must:
- contain the essential terms of the contract (including who the contracting parties are, the subject matter of the contract and the terms and conditions of the agreement), and
- it must be signed by the party to be charged.
If any party to the contract does not sign it, that party cannot be held liable under the contract.
If you are involved in a real estate transaction, get the legal advice you need to protect your interests.
Our Experience is Your Advantage.
At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., our clients benefit from our experience and expertise in all aspects of real estate. Since 2001 we have dedicated ourselves to only one thing: protecting your property rights. We have offices in Cumming, and we serve clients in Atlanta, Gainesville, Gwinnett County, Bartow County, Hall County, Henry County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, and other counties throughout Georgia. Call us at: 770-888-7707. Or you can e-mail us with inquiries at: firstname.lastname@example.org