Is a text message as good as a writtencontract to prove an agreement?

Had my truck for sale on craigslist. Someone wanted to buy it. They put a down payment for me to hold it. I told him, through a text, that he needed to sign something saying it was non-refundable and only good for a limited time. However nothing got signed but the money was sent. Now the stated time period to hold the vehicle has passed. Do I have to pay him back his deposit or can I sell the truck to other party. His excuse is that his financing fell through.

Asked on December 11, 2011 under Business Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A text message is only evidence of an agreement to purchase your vehicle that you are writing about and is not a valid written contract. In most states the sale of an item for more than $500 requires a written agreement signed by the person to be obligated under it.

I would inquire of this person who was to buy your vehicle if he or she agrees to forfeit the deposit. If so, get the agreement in writing signed by the buyer and have the deposit deemed an option to purchase the vehicle that has expired. In most states, a deposit is refundable but an option to purchase some article is not refundable.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.