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Condominium Seller Prevented from Backing Out of Deal

When it comes to purchasing a home, a handshake is not enough; but when a seller attempts to back out of a written memorandum of agreement sometimes a lawsuit is required to hold the parties to the terms of their contract. Smith Duggan Buell & Rufo attorneys Paul Alan Rufo and Matthew J. Walko have successfully represented a young couple who had negotiated an agreement to buy a high-end condominium in the Fort Point area of Boston. The buyers signed a written Offer to Purchase, including an additional term sheet specifying the construction that was to be provided by the seller and including a mortgage and inspection contingency in favor of the buyers. When the seller accepted the down payment and countersigned the written offer, the parties reached agreement on all material terms and entered an enforceable contract under Massachusetts law. After signing, the seller changed her mind, however, and refused to go forward with the sale. She incorrectly claimed that since she had not signed a formal Purchase and Sale Agreement (known as a P&S), she did not have to honor their agreement. She also failed in her attempt to renege on the parties’ signed agreement by blaming the broker. When mediation failed to settle the case, the Firm, following litigation and summary judgment motions, obtained a judgment of specific performance from the Suffolk Superior Court that ordered the seller to sell the condominium to the Firm’s clients for the agreed price.

Certainly it is recommended to obtain legal advice before signing any legal papers associated with the purchase and sale of real estate. Moreover, if you have legal questions concerning the enforceability of an Offer to Purchase, or the rights and obligations of parties to a Purchase and Sale Agreement for a house, condominium or other residential or commercial property, please contact attorney Paul Alan Rufo, Chairperson of Smith Duggan Buell & Rufo’s Real Estate Department at PRufo@SmithDuggan.com or 617-228-4401.

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