When and how can a contract be modified by just one of the partyies to it?

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When and how can a contract be modified by just one of the partyies to it?

I submitted an offer on a property and in the offer we requested the seller to pay 2% of the purchased price toward buyer’s closing costs. The seller “a bank” counteroffered. They specifically requested more for the home and an earlier closing date. No counteroffer was made about the 2% toward closing costs. I accepted. They sent an addendum; in this addendum they didn’t put the 2% toward closing costs. My real state agent sent the new contract that we signed with the changes in the counteroffer but including the 2% and submitted it. I received the signed contract and noticed today that they crossed out the 2% toward my closing costs. Can they modify my contract? Are they obligated to pay the 2% ?

Asked on June 18, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

One party may never unilaterally alter an accepted contract. However, from what you write, it appears that you sent in a counteroff in effect--you write that the addendum did not include the 2% towards the closing, but your "real estate agent sent the new contract that we signed...but including the 2% and submitted it." This means you did not accept their contract as is--or at least that's how you phrased it in your question--but rather sent back a signed contract that had a new term (the 2% for closing) not in the version they'd sent you. That consitutes a counteroffer, and so there was no accepted contract at that point. When it came to them, rather than accept your counter, they re-countered back. That is legal: if party A counters the offer, party B does not have to accept it as submitted, but may counter in turn.


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