What constitutes a legal and binding contract?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What constitutes a legal and binding contract?

A property was offered at $299,900. I sent a signed cash offer, with proof of funds, of $295,000. The seller counteroffered in writing at $297,000. I accepted in writing. At this point, I thought this was a contract. However, a week later, I got an email on behalf of the seller stating additional offers came in for more, so I had to offer more if I was still interested. This even though we already had a meeting of the minds and an accepted contract. This just seems wrong I accepted their counter a week ago It seems like a scam and very unethical as well. Do I have any recourse? Do they have to sell me the house for the agreed upon amount of $297,000?

Asked on November 15, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You are correct: if they accepted your counteroffer, that created an enforceable contract and they have to sell at that price. For a contract, there must be an offer (your counteroff), acceptance (their acceptance of it), mutual agreement (shown by them accepting their counter)--a "meeting of the minds"--and "consideration," or the provision or promise of something of value by each side to the other (a promise or agreement to pay $297k in exchange for a house).
Based on what you write, you may be able to force them to sell to you at this price. Given what is at stake, you are advised to retain an attorney to help you.

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