Warning Home Buyers: Home Sale Lawsuit Filed Because of Unclear Stipulation

May 06, 2011 / Russell Legato, Residential Property Analyst

A home sale lawsuit was filed because of an unclear provision in the contract between a couple selling a house and their clients in Florida, USA.

Warning Home Buyers: Home Sale Lawsuit Filed Because of Unclear Stipulation

The agreement was between sellers Christine and Nigel Gibney and buyers Helen and Randy Pillifant which stated that the home sale was “contingent upon this property appraising for no less than $620,000.”

Upon appraisal, the Pillifants came up with $635,000 and the Gibneys came up with $560,000. With the figures, the buyers refused and terminated the contract.

Because of the refusal, the sellers sued the Gibneys for a breach of contract, arguing that an appraisal of $620,000 or more obligated the Gibneys to buy the house.

But the Gibneys resisted and explained that the stipulation meant that any appraisal for less than $620,000 allowed them to terminate the contract.

When sent to the court to judge, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal favored the would-be buyers with the verdict that “appraising for no less than $620,000″ means that no appraisal may be less than $620,000,” and that the Gibneys can terminate the contract if any appraisal valued the property at less than $620,000.

With the case, Ryan and Marks Attorneys LLP partner Jeff Marks warned future home buyers and sellers that when buying a home, they should mean what they say and say what they mean when filling out the contract of sale because too often, people like them think that a contract allows for one thing when the language says something else.

To correct the misunderstood statement in the Pillifant-Gibney contract, contingencies should be written in full sentences and the contract would have read “This agreement is contingent, at the buyers’ option, on the property appraising for at least $620,000 as determined by the appraiser for the buyers’ lender.”



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