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Seyferth v. Groves & S. R. R. Co - 217 Ill. 483, 75 N.E. 522 (1905)

Rule:

A written agreement to convey land, at the option of the proposed vendee, within a given time and at a certain price, if made upon a sufficient consideration, with full knowledge on the part of the person extending the option that he is bound and the other is not, is such a contract, though lacking mutuality, as will be enforced in equity, where the party holding the option signifies his acceptance within the time limited upon the terms as stated; and where the one holding a buyer's option makes his election to purchase, and tenders the amount agreed to according to the terms of the contract, it is the duty of the seller to accept the price and execute a deed to the purchaser for the property. Such contracts are perfectly valid, and a court of equity may decree a specific performance of them.

Facts:

The appellant property owner filed a bill to enjoin the railroad company from constructing its railroad on the owner's property. The parties entered into an agreement under which the owner, in consideration for $1, granted the railroad the option to purchase the property within four months. After the instrument was signed and acknowledged by the owner and his wife, the owner complained to the railroad's agent that he had not received $1. The agent offered the owner $1, and the owner refused. The owner later notified the railroad that he was rescinding the contract. The lower courts ruled in favor of the railroad company.

Issue:

Is the written agreement to convey land at the option of the vendee valid and binding?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court found that the owner could not avoid the obligation for want of payment of a purely nominal consideration, which was tendered and declined. The court noted that the owner did not give a reason for declining the consideration. The court further noted that a written agreement to convey land at the option of the proposed vendee, though lacking in mutuality, was a contract that could be enforced in equity.

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