Putnam's Handy Law Book for the Layman

Agreement to Purchase Land. - An agreement to purchase land [land contract] must be in writing to be valid. Oral or parol agreements may be made to do many things, but everywhere the law makes an exception of agreements relating to land purchases. A statute that is quite similar in the states requires this agreement to be in writing and signed by the party against whom it is to be enforced. Thus if the seller wishes to enforce such an agreement, he must produce a writing signed by the purchaser; if the latter wishes to hold the seller, he must do the same thing. The better way is to have the writing signed by both parties.

How complete must the writing [of the Land Contract] be? It need not mention the sum to be paid for the land; it can be signed with a lead pencil: a stamp signature will suffice. The entire agreement need not be on one piece of paper. If it can be made out from written correspondence between the two parties this will be enough.

To this rule of law are some exceptions. Therefore if an oral agreement for the sale of land is followed by putting the buyer into possession, the law will compel the seller to give him a deed. The proceeding would consist of a petition addressed to a court of equity, which would inquire into the facts, and if they were true, would compel the seller to give the purchaser a deed of the land. The reason for making this exception is, the purchaser would be a trespasser had he no right to be there: to justify his possession the law permits him to prove, if he can, his purchase of the land; and if he has bought it, of course he ought to have a deed of his title.

Once, a purchaser who made an oral agreement and paid part of the purchase money could compel the seller to give him a deed, and many still think such action is sufficient to bind the bargain. This is no longer the law. The practice gave rise to much fraud: "A" would assert that he gave money to "B" to pay for land when in truth it was given for some other purpose. So the courts abandoned the rule founded on the part payment of the purchase price. "A" can however get back his money.

An option to purchase land, contained in an agreement to sell, must be exercised within a reasonable time, if none is fixed in the agreement. See Deed.


Do It Yourself Legal Forms
Law for the Laymen - Agreement to Purchase Land
Page Updated 5:59 PM Saturday 4/4/2015