What does the statute of frauds require of your real estate deal?

| Feb 7, 2020

Many people who live here in Austin wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you are one of those people, you probably took your time finding just the right home before putting in an offer on one. You wanted to make sure that it would fulfill your needs for years to come.

You may have heard that, when you enter into a contract to purchase a home, your deal must comply with the statute of frauds. What does that mean?

It started as an unwritten law

The statute of frauds began as a common law concept dating back to 1677. The English parliament wanted to help reduce the amount of misunderstandings and fraud taking place in large transactions that relied on oral contracts alone.

Even though the United States adopted the concept, it wasn’t a written law until later. If one party to an alleged contract breaches it in some way, the party making the accusation has the burden of proving that a valid contract existed to breach. Deals involving land fall under the statute of frauds, which means that your contract to purchase the home you want must be in writing. This law requires the following contract elements in order to comply:

  • It must be in writing, but it does not require formal language.
  • You must clearly identify the property you want to purchase.
  • You must clearly outline the terms of your agreement in the contract, such as the property you are purchasing, the agreed-upon price and any other relevant terms between you and the seller.
  • At the very least, you must sign the agreement since you are the one paying for the home, but both of you should sign it.

This over-300-year-old legal concept could end up saving you money and time should something go wrong with your home purchase. When a dispute between parties arises over a contract, the document itself is the primary source for you and/or the court to determine a resolution. When you first realize that something is not right, you may want to closely scrutinize your contract for an answer. Perhaps you have contingencies in your contract that could help resolve the issue.

You may need some help

If you believe the seller breached your contract, you will then need to review your rights and options. In order to do this, you may need some help. Working with an attorney experienced in Texas real estate law could help you reach a satisfactory resolution or help you prepare to take the case to trial.