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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 34728
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I put down a deposit of $2,500.00 to purchase one acre of

Customer Question

I put down a deposit of $2,500.00 to purchase one acre of land. Four days later I lost my job. I contacted the land developer for a refund a total of three times. I was very polite and professional every time I spoke to him. He refuses to refund my deposit. No contract was signed to purchase the land. the only document I signed is a Earnest Money Receipt for the deposit and a paper that reads This letter represents the purchase of the above referenced property under the following terms "The form list the following: property, seller ,purchaser, price, terms, earnest money and address of lot. the land developer wrote on the earnest money receipt "not a contract"
Now I find out that the land developer has filed a restraining order against me, I assume it's for the phone calls, I continued to call him because he said things like, I'll be there tomorrow at 2:00pm and refund only $1,500.00 and the rest later. He claimed the down payment was used to clean the acre, to this day the acre in question sits as mother nature wants it. can I sue, and file a lien on his property and can I enter as collection in his credit report? Shall I sue with the Justice of the Peace, or county court?
Now that I have no job I need the money.
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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I hate to give customers bad news, but if you paid a deposit to purchase a piece of property and the seller accepted it, then a binding legal contract is formed for the purchase. A judge would likely consider this an oral contract if he didn't think that the written letter was one. And while normally a contract for the sale of land has to be in writing under the "statute of frauds", if one party tenders partial performance (i.e. pays money) and the other party accepts it, then that can take it outside the written requirement.

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The fact that you later had a financial change of circumstances wouldn't give you legal grounds to terminate the contract unless the seller agreed to do so.

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If you were to try and sue him, I don't think the judge would rule in your favor because you are the party who is actually in breach of contract if you are refusing to continue on with the purchase..

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The only way I see you prevailing is if there is something in writing that states that you have X days to cancel the contract and receive your deposit back and you complied with that requirement.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy. I also don't want to see you spend your time and money on a case when it is very unlikely that you would prevail..

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thanks

Barrister