A Binding Contract

Thousands of real estate transactions take place throughout Illinois each year. Typically, a buyer through his or her real estate agent submit an offer to purchase a property and a seller accepts with a signature forming a binding contract. In some instances, the party names listed on the contract may be inaccurate. Perhaps the seller holds the property in trust, or the buyer chooses to add another individual to title. Regardless, the contract is still valid. What if the sellers are a married couple and only one spouse accepts the offer? The state of Illinois has reaffirmed a contract is still valid.

The Appellate Court of Illinois recently upheld the validity of a contract in John Franklin & Dorothy Bickmore Living Trust v. Nanavati. In the summer of 2017, the Bickmores entered a contract for the purchase of the Nanavatis’ home in Highland Park. At the time of the contract, the property appeared to only be in Mrs. Nanavati’s name. It later became known that Mr. Nanavati was on the mortgage, and believed he could renegotiate the purchase price to transfer his interest in the property. Pointing back to previous cases, the Appellate Court held the Mrs. Nanavati was liable for breach of contract. It was also noted that Mr. Nanavati had initially approved of the contract Mrs. Nanavati signed. Ultimately, the contract was viewed as binding and the court entered a judgement for damages against the Nanavatis.

This case underlines the importance of thoroughly reviewing a contract and accepting it in good faith. If you would like to read the full Appellate Court opinion and analysis of this case, please click here.

Bird's eye view of three houses

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