I need to know if a reciept for a $1000 downpayment for a purchase is legally binding if it is not on a legal document and is not notarized?

UPDATED: Sep 13, 2012

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I need to know if a reciept for a $1000 downpayment for a purchase is legally binding if it is not on a legal document and is not notarized?

I have a guy trying to buy my modular home that is stringing me along and I have other intersted parties. Can you tell me if I can terminate this sale and give him back his downpayment without him trying to sue me?

Asked on September 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Notarization is irrelevant in this context: it neither adds nor detracts anything. If he gave you a deposit with an offer to buy your home, which offer you accepted, you are bound by your acceptance until and unless he violates one of his obligations. So, for example: say he gave you a $1,000 deposit, but had to come with either a larger down payment or the entire purchase price by a certain date; if he fails to do that, then you could terminate the agreement for his material noncompliance or breach and also keep the deposit. But if he's still complying with any of his obligations, hasn't exceeded any time frames, etc., you are still bound.

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