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Would-be buyers question contract’s cancellation

December 28, 2018
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler,

My husband and I are relocating to Cape Coral and have found the perfect lot to build our home. We submitted a written offer through our Realtor, and later that day the sellers signed and returned the contract to my Realtor. A few days later, the sellers wrote to say they were rescinding, or cancelling, the contract, because we missed placing initials on the third page. They say it is not a valid contract, and have sent a cancellation form so we get our $1,000 deposit back. We really want this lot. The seller's Realtor even told our Realtor they have another buyer for more money!

- Stacey B.

Dear Stacey,

Your question demonstrates the complexities that can arise in real estate transactions. The law of contracts basically looks to determine if there is a valid offer from one side, and acceptance by the other. Your signed offer would take care of step 1, except that the sellers are saying it is not a valid offer (even though they attempted to accept it). Although every situation is unique, missing initials on one page of a 12-page document would not make the offer deficient. Especially if the language on the page was standard language, the seller should have a difficult time arguing there is no offer and acceptance here. Keep in mind, Florida law looks at every piece of property as unique (even lots in Cape Coral), so you may need to file a lawsuit soon to ensure the property isn't sold to someone else. Make sure your Realtor knows you do not intend to sign the cancellation, that you consider the contract valid, and that you are moving forward with the purchase. You should also consult with an attorney to confirm the strength of your position, as well as your options if the seller does not comply with your demands.

I wish you, your family, and all of our Cape Coral neighbors a Happy New Year!

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 17 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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