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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33761
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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This is a real estate question. I inquired about a property

Customer Question

This is a real estate question. I inquired about a property and found out it was zoned residential instead of commercial. I personally never signed any type of agreement or intent to purchase the property. I am the sole owner of a real estate development company and no one is authorized to sign anything on my behalf. However, an employee signed a land purchase agreement as well as a termination agreement unknowingly to me using his name and not mine. Again, no one...not even my father, mother or brother can sign or execute anything for me. Now, I am getting a threatening letter from an attorney requesting that I pay a commission fee as well as a deposit of earnest money because of breech of agreement. Question...am I legally obligated to pay this even though I did not personally sign any paperwork nor did I authorize anyone to sign on my behalf? I only inquired about the property via telephone conversation and was inquiring for commercial reasons, not residential. Please help me.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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If the employee doesn't have the authority to bind you to a contract because they have never been granted that authority, then they can't do so. Under the doctrine of "respondeat superior" if they have been granted power to act as your agent, then they can bind you. But without that explicit power, they can't do so and only the person signing can be held responsible for their actions.

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The attorney is simply going after you under the "deep pockets" theory in that since you are the owner, you must have a lot of money so will just pay them.

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But here if the employee signed and breached, then the attorney's recourse is to sue them, not you.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My question...in what forms would I have to grant an employee the authority to act on my behalf? Would it have to be in writing or some type of agreement and/or contract drawn up between the two of us? I am just curious for general knowledge as I have never given anyone the authority to act on my behalf...not even my father or mother as I make my own decisions. The attorney that I spoke with this morning was quite a smart mouth, insisting that I gave an employee the authority to act on my behalf and more or less calling me a liar. Never once have I given this employee the authority to act on my behalf in writing or verbally. The employee had my cell phone as he had damaged his at the QSR and did not have one, therefore, I let him use one of mine until he could get a new one. The real estate agent insisted on sending me the plat info on the property, so I graciously gave her both my cell phone number as well as my e-mail address. I only spoke with this lady one time inquiring about the property. Once I found out it was zoned residential I was not interested, but she wanted to send the info on the property anyway. She even stated to me that even if it was zoned commercial, she wasn't sure if it would be suitable for a QSR because it was odd in shape. I have also been ill and had surgery and was out of pocket. Therefore, she continued to communicate with my employee. I honestly had no idea that a purchase or intent to purchase agreement had been signed nor did I know a termination agreement had been signed either. However, after speaking with the attorney this morning, I got to looking in my e-mail and I did find several e-mail notes from the realtor that I had never opened. I reached out to my employee and there are also text messages between her and my employee where both are stating that they cannot get in touch with me; my employee specifically even stated to the realtor that "Only Wanda Can Sign". Please engage this conversation further as I am a dummy when it comes to legal law and issues. I really do appreciate your help!!!
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

There are 3 types of authority...actual, implied and apparent. In a real estate transaction, under the legal doctrine called the "Statute of Frauds" anything regarding a real estate deal has to be in writing. So in order for an employee to have authority to act on your behalf, they have to have "actual" authority, as in something in writing stating that they can act and legally bind you as the principle.

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So without express authority to act, then the employee can't act as your agent and bind you to any contract and the attorney knows this. It sounds like a simple money grab to me on the part of the attorney with her trying to just scare you into paying them something.

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thanks

Barrister

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