Is a verbal agreement to rent a home with an option to buy enforceable? 7 Answers as of April 14, 2014

On March 28, 2014, I entered into a verbal agreement with the seller of a house I want to buy. Because I need to sell my current home before I can purchase this house, the owner, through her realtor, agreed to a 12-month lease with an option to buy. We also agreed on the purchase price and terms. The verbal rental agreement was for me to pay the seller $1100.00 per month with a 1-month deposit. The seller's agent has my $1100.00 deposit. I was to move into the property May 1st. On Friday, April 11, my realtor informed me she got word from the seller's agent that the seller has received and is considering another offer to buy the house. Is this worth pursuing legally? I realize the seller hasn't signed the written agreement, but we made a verbal agreement. Both of our realtor's were a party to that agreement. Is there anything I can do to hold her to our agreement?

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Dessy & Dessy, a Professional Corporation | Ronald D. Dessy
While there are some exceptions to the requirement for a written agreement regarding transfer of an interest in real estate, I don't see any that would apply to your situation. It sounds like the only action you took in reliance upon the verbal agreement was the payment of the rental deposit. If the purchase price was below the Fairmarket value of the property, you may have a negligence claim against your own age.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/14/2014
Law Office of Richard Winkler | Richard Winkler
A verbal agreement for the purchase of real property is not enforceable.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 4/14/2014
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
This could become a very complex question, but generally real estate transactions, in order to be enforceable must be in writing and signed by the person whom is being held liable. In your case the seller did execute the document and therefore most probably you will not have an ability to enforce the verbal agreement.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/14/2014
Peters Law, PLLC
Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
The statute of frauds regarding real estate transactions requires that to be enforceable, the agreement must be in writing. However, it may be that emails or even the holding of the deposit may be enough to prove the agreement. Given that, my guess is that it probably is not worth it to pursue. But then I have been wrong once or twice so you might consider contacting local real estate counsel.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 4/14/2014
Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
Yes, you could file a lawsuit to establish your rights and record a Lis Pendens with the County Recorder.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/14/2014
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