If a counter-offer is accepted over phone but papers were never signed, is that verbal agreement binding?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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If a counter-offer is accepted over phone but papers were never signed, is that verbal agreement binding?

I was interested in buying a house, I got pre-approved and found a house that suited me. I put an offer in, signed the contract which stated I’d put down a $200 earnest deposit (its only a 40k home). Well I get a call stating that the seller countered, I accepted, and we made an appointment to sign the counter offer and give the earnest money, however circumstances changed vastly over those 2 days and I need to back out and can’t buy the house. I called and informed the agent but he says, “We have a contract and I need to give the earnest money”. Am I obligated since i never signed the counter?

Asked on August 30, 2011 Ohio


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Under the "statute of frauds" all real estate contracts are required to be in writing and signed by the party to be charged with the agreement. In your situtation, you made an offer to buy real proeprty resulting in a counter offer (brand new offer) by the seller.

You verbally agreed to the counter offer, but never signed the counter offer. Since you never signed the seller's counter offer you do not have a valid agreement to purchase real property that you could be obligated under per Ohio law as well as all other state's laws under the "statute of frauds".  You have no meeting of the minds, no contract and no obligation to place a deposit to buy the property if you do not want to buy the land.

Good luck.

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