With the approach of Spring and Summer comes a more active residential real estate market. The process of buying or selling a home may have become just a little more complicated due to the recent decision handed down by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Trowbridge v. McCaigue.
Buyers, sellers, and real estate agents need to be aware that, under certain circumstances, what is intended to be only an “offer to purchase” can instead be a legally binding and enforceable “contract for sale.” According to the majority of the Court in Trowbridge, this occurs when an “offer to purchase” real estate contains all essential terms. However, one of the judges, Justice Shogan, felt the majority ignored the plain language of the document as well as the intention of the parties. He indicated that what was clearly identified as a “purchase offer” was an “agreement to agree,” and it was not on its face intended or otherwise to be an express and binding contract.
To avoid the result that was obtained in Trowbridge, one lesson seems to be that when making an offer to purchase real estate, clearly specify that any essential terms referenced in the offer are intended to be the subject of further negotiations.