Is an oral contract the same as a written contract?

UPDATED: Jun 8, 2015

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Is an oral contract the same as a written contract?

The contract is between 2 people about buying a house and doing remodeling on another house. Now, one party is getting cold feet.

Asked on June 8, 2015 under Business Law, Kansas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Typically, oral contracts are as binding and enforceable as written contracts. Of course, proving the existence and the terms of such a contract can be difficult, if the other party to the agreement disputes your recollection of it. Additionally, there are certain limitations on these agreements.

The fact is that certain types of contracts must be in writing in order for them to be enforceable. As a general rule, those are agreements which will take more than 1 year to peform; agreements to assume another's debts; agreements involving more than a certain dollar amount (e.g. for more than $5,000) and agreements to buy real estate. So at least part of this verbal contract appears to be unenforceable.

As to the agreement regarding the house remodel (assuming that you are not also purchasing it), your ageement mat be enforceable if it doesn't fall into any of the foregoing exceptions. That having been said, in order to have a valid contract (oral or written) a person has to make a promise to do something or refrain from doing something that they are not otherwise legally obligated to do and there must also be "consideration," (i.e. an exchange of something of value).

Without knowing any other details of your situation, it's hard to say more. At this point you may want to consult directly with an attorney in your area. They can best advise you of your rights under specific state law.


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.

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