Sales of land, to be enforceable, must ordinarily be in writing signed by the party to be charged. However, a writing is not always essential to the validity of the contract. An oral agreement can be equally effective and binding as a written one when the terms are reasonably established in writing by a series of documents and/or written memorandum which establish the subject matter, consideration, identity of the parties and the terms of the agreement.
Appellant buyer entered into negotiations with an agent of respondent seller for the purchase of several building lots. The agent represented to appellant that other persons had an interest in the property, but that appellant had the authority to make the sales as long as agreeable terms were reached. Although appellant was told that one of the owners was unsure of the price, appellant alleged that a binding contract had been reached based on the earnest money agreement he signed, his attorney's letter to respondent's attorney, and the reply of respondent's attorney and sought specific performance. The trial court granted summary judgment dismissing the specific performance cause of action against respondent, and the court affirmed.
Did appellant buyer's arrangement of financing for development of the subject of the sale constitute sufficient part performance to make the sale an exception to the statute of frauds?
None of the three principal elements or circumstances involved in determining whether there had been sufficient part performance occurred in the instant case. The arrangement for financing was equally consistent with the earnest money agreement or with the decision to make an offer to increase the purchase price rather than a sale. Thus, there was no part performance by appellant buyer to constitute an exception to the statute of frauds.