Real Estate Law
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Typically, transactions relating to real estate are required to be in writing to be enforceable. But, the lack of a written contract can be overcome by the concepts of promissory estoppel, detrimental reliance, and unjust enrichment. This situation arises when Person A relied upon the verbal agreement, Person A performed based on such reliance, and because Person B defaulted, such reliance is now to Person A's detriment. Where there is i) partial performance by Person A based upon the mutual promises, ii) Person A relied upon such promises to perform, iii) Person B's failure to perform would be to Person A's detriment, and iv) result in Person B being unjustly enriched, Person A can overcome the legal requirement that the agreement be in writing. Your situation satisfies all the foregoing elements. So, what I would do if they don't comply with your demands is to file suit on the debt they owe you and then, in conjunction with filing the suit, place a lis pendens on the property (which is a fancy term for a lien in this situation) which will prevent them from transferring clean title to anyone pending the adjudication of your suit.
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