Are verbal agreements binding?

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Are verbal agreements binding?

I was working for a guy who is in the real estate business. When my friend was looking to have a house built I recommend the guy to them. He became their real estate agent and agreed to pay me for the referral verbally. My friend had very little help from him so she told him through email that she thinks he should pay me half of his commission because he didn’t do anything. He responded back by emailing agreeing to pay me. In April they closed on their house and he was paid his portion. Afterwards I asked him via text message how much of the total amount ( I gave him the dollar amount that I received from my friend on the total closing amount) that I would receive. He responded back and said that he had to pay a brokers fee of 55% so that it would be half of the 45%. I have only received $300 of the amount he was supposed to pay me which is over $1000. He has told me that he is going to pay me out of the kindness of his heart but if I took him to court I would have no prove that he was going to pay me because it was a verbal agreement. I have record of all of these text messages because my phone keeps every text message. Do I have enough information to take him to small claims court? If so can I also sue for interest accrued?

Asked on August 9, 2010 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) As a general matter, verbal argreements (more properly called oral agreements) are binding and  legally enforceable. However, as the other party pointed out, the issue often becomes one of proof--how do you establish the terms of the agreement, or even that one existed? If you feel you have proof, then you may be able to enforce the agreement. Text messages could be used as one form of proof.

2) Some agreements under the law must be in writing. under something called the statute of frauds. However, it does not appear that this agreement is one of them, so you should be able to enforce it.

3)  If the agreement itself did not provide for the payment of interest, it's difficult to recover it. (Besides, interest rates have been so low, it's hardly worth it.) However, if you sue and  win, if you are not paid, interest may start accumulating a higher rate of  interest set by statute.

4) If you're owed $700, it may well be worth small claims court.


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