• psst … I’m a Realtor! Thanks for stopping by my website. I would love to help you find your dream home and community in the Hampton Roads or Williamsburg area or to sell your existing home. This website is authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of Hampton Roads and the historic triangle, and his expertise in the local real estate market. His websites, WilliamsburgsRealEstate.com and Mr Williamsburg.com were created as a resource for folks who are exploring a move to Williamsburg, VA , Hampton Roads VA and the surrounding areas of the Virginia Peninsula. On his website you can search homes for sale , foreclosures, 55+ active adult communities, condos and town homes , land and commercial property for sale in Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, Poquoson, and Gloucester, VA as well as surrounding markets of Carrolton, Chesapeake,Gloucester, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth Mathews, Newport News Norfolk, Poquoson, Smithfield, , Suffolk, Surry, Va Beach, Yorktown and York County Virginia You can reach John by email John@MrWilliamsburg.com or phone @ 757-254-813

FAQ Hampton Roads Real Estate law questions

FAQ : Brian, now the seller’s spouse won’t sign the contract (or listing agreement).  Do I have a deal?

Answer : No, as long as both were named as parties.  But read on.

This frequently asked question arises when someone refuses at the last minute to sign the contract or a listing agreement.  The answer turns on how the contract or listing agreement was written and who is refusing to sign (but not why they are refusing).  There are two basic facts patterns:
First Fact Pattern: Only One Party Named, Someone Not Named But Necessary Refuses to Sign:

Here the answer would be yes.  In this typical fact pattern the agent (and usually the client) writes and signs a contract with just one name as a party (the apparent client) only to later learn that another necessary party, and that party’s signature, is missing and needed.  As we have often noted, this can arise when a spouse thinks he or she got the house in a divorce only to find out the property was never actually deeded to them, but it can also arise with unknown heirs, someone claiming to “represent the estate,” business partners you didn’t think needed to sign, etc.  Wright v. Bryan, 226 Va. 557 (1984) involved such a situation.  In Wright only the husband, who in fact held title as tenants by the entireties with his wife, had accepted the buyer’s offer and he was the only party listed in the contract.  The wife was neither named in the contract nor did she sign. When the buyer refused to close for reasons unrelated to the state of title the seller husband sued the buyer for breach, and the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of the seller.  In doing so the court discussed the rule that despite the wife’s omission on the contract, which meant that wife was not contractually bound to sign a thing, there was in fact a valid contract between the husband and the buyer (but the buyer breached it).  Had the buyer waited until closing and the seller’s wife then refused to sign then the seller would have been in breach.  This rule is why a builder can agree to sell a lot they do not yet own – on the basis that all they do is promise to acquire title by the time they are obligated to sell to the buyer (but this might be a misrepresentation under the REIN contract re joinder or approval of third parties).  And had the buyer waited and then the seller’s wife refused to sign I think the agent could have sued her client for breaching the listing agreement (unless of course the listing agent knew the wife was necessary and chose not to get her permission — which would be a VREB violation among others).

Second Fact Pattern: All Parties Named, But One Refuses to Sign:

Here the answer would be no.  This fact pattern usually involves a situation where you know about both (or all) parties, and so both (or all) names appear on the contract (or listing agreement), but then one of the named parties refuses to sign at the last minute. This, too, often arises with a separating or divorcing couple when one of the spouses just changes his or her mind whether out of spite or just because they change their mind.  The distinction from the first fact pattern is that it is understood from the beginning that you need all parties to sign and all are listed as parties to the contract/offer. G & M Homes II, Inc. v. Pearson, 263 Va. 107 (2002) involved this fact pattern: mom owned one-half of the property and her daughter owned the other half and both were listed as parties.  Mom accepted the buyer’s offer, but daughter refused.  The buyer sued claiming that mom was obligated to sell her half (they tried to get the daughter also, but that failed).  The Virginia Supreme Court said mom was not obligated to sell her one-half on the ground that since both sellers were listed in the contract in was clear both had to accept the offer before there was a valid contract – there was no evidence whatsoever mom was agreeing to sell her one-half when she signed.  The same principle would hold on a listing agreement (any contract really).
So, in summary, make sure you always find out who owns an interest in the property.  List them as parties.  And then get everyone to sign.  If someone misrepresents their ability to enter into the contract without others they may be sued if they do not get them to sign.
If you need help on this or any other matter, please feel free to email or call me.  Thank you for your support and business.

Brian D. Lytle, Esq.
Lytle Law, P.C.
11801 Canon Blvd., Ste 200
Newport News, VA 23606
757.595.5655 phone 757.595.4262 fax

FAQ Legal Questions Hampton Roads Real Estate

FAQ: Brian, the seller died before we could close on our home in Hampton Roads, Virginia, can the buyer make the seller’s heirs honor the contract?


The Virginia Supreme Court answered this question in the affirmative in the case of Moore’s Adm’rs v. Fitz Randolph, 33 Va. 175 (1835).  This result is true not only in Virginia, but to my knowledge in all fifty states.  In many jurisdictions the answer will turn on whether the contract contains language stating that it is “binding on the heirs” of the parties.  Curiously, The REIN Standard Purchase Agreement no longer contains that language (the VAR contract still does), but the law (at least it seems in Virginia) presumes that it is meant to be binding on the seller’s estate anyway.
Sometimes the seller dies before the deed is executed and so the question becomes: who will sign the deed?  Again, Virginia law provides a pretty clear answer.  Va. Code § 64.1-148 provides that “When any deceased person shall have executed and delivered a bona fide written contract of sale, purchase option, or other agreement binding such deceased person, his heirs, personal representatives, or assigns, to convey any real property or interest therein, his personal representatives may, upon full compliance by the purchaser with the terms and conditions of such contract, option or agreement execute a deed and do all things necessary to effect the transfer of title to such real property or interest therein to the purchaser and such transfer shall be as effective as if it had been made by the deceased obligor.”
It may well be that closing will be delayed somewhat when a seller dies (for example, if the seller had not signed the deed you might need someone to qualify on the estate in order to sign the deed), but as you can see it is clear that the buyer can insist and require the estate to conclude the transaction.

Is the reverse true?  Can a seller require a deceased buyer’s estate to perform the contract?  While in theory it is true (the case above refused to answer that converse question), bear in mind the practical nature of our modern contracts – financing based on the buyer’s income not to mention actually being alive, owner occupancy, etc. would almost certainly dictate a different result.  Perhaps if the contract were a straightforward, non-personalized, cash deal one could bind a buyer’s estate.  Otherwise I would say no.
Brian Lytle Esq.

A brief  review by Real Estate Attorney Brian Lytle Esq. www.LytleLaw.com A general practice law firm located in Newport News, Virginia. From two office locations on the Virginia Peninsula we serve clients and try cases across the Commonwealth including the Peninsula, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, James City and York County areas. Lytle Law has the experience and ability to satisfy nearly all of a client’s legal needs, and where we believe we need help we will either associate appropriate counsel or provide a referral.

Brian is the president of Lytle Title www.LytleTitle.com Lytle Title & Escrow, LLC a Virginia licensed, insured, and bonded real estate settlement company doing business as Lytle Title. With offices in Newport News and WIlliamsburg, Virginia, we primarily serve the Virginia Peninsula (Hampton, Newport News, York County, James City County and Williamsburg), but we also regularly serve surrounding areas, to include Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Gloucester and the greater Tidewater, Virginia area.

Copyright © 2008 Brian D. Lytle. Reprinted here with permission.

For further information about real estate in Williamsburg, James City, New Kent or York County Virginia contact: John Womeldorf/ REALTOR

Liz Moore & Associates

757 254 8136

John@MrWilliamsburg.com email

www.MrWilliamsburg.com/ website

www.MrBurg.com website

www.MrHamptonroads.com/ website

www.MrTidewater.com/ website

www.MrVaBeach.com/ website

Williamsburg Real Estate Resource. Search for Homes & Land for sale in Williamsburg Virginia & surrounding areas click here :CLICK HERE WILLIAMSBURG VA MLS HOME SEARCH

CLICK HERE FOR Real Estate Home Search Tidewater Hampton Roads Va


My other area Real Estate and Information Blogs for Hampton Roads/ Tidewater/ Williamsburg Virignia and surrounding areas

Williamsburg Real Estate Blog II

Williamsburg Real Estate Blog

Williamsburg Happenings/ Events Blog

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