Can a seller sign a purchase agreement with one buyer and then sell part of that property to a different buyer?

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Can a seller sign a purchase agreement with one buyer and then sell part of that property to a different buyer?

The seller and i both signed a purchase
agreement for a house on a lot in
Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The seller
has since accepted money from a third
party for part of the property. Can he
legally do this since he has already
signed an agreement with me?

Asked on March 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, he cannot, unless the agreement with you specifically "carved" out part of the property--i.e., by the agreement's plain terms, you were not buying part of the property. Or the agreement was specifically drawn to be very limited--e.g.it made clear you were only buying the house and the land on which it sits, nothing else. In that case, he could sell the part you are buying to anyone he likes. 
But if your contract was for the while property (e.g. it stated you buying the property at a certain address), then once he contracted to sell the whole thing to you, he could not then sell part to someone else. Your contract, being signed first, binds him; you can bring a legal action to force him to sell the whole thing to you (you could sue him for "specific performance," or to enforce the terms of the contract). The other buyer could then sue him for compensation for not honoring his contract with them, but that's not your problem.


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