The vast majority of people have some level of experience with selling their homes or purchasing a new home. However, there are many moving parts that go into those pesky sales contracts. While cumbersome, those contracts for the sale of real estate have some minimally specific requirements due to statutes here in Tennessee and due to some common law influence.
Tennessee has codified what is commonly known in the legal community as that “Statute of Frauds”. TCA §29-2-101(a)(4) provides the no action shall be brought, “Upon any contract for the sale of lands, tenements, or hereditaments, or the making of any lease thereof for a longer-term than one (1) year[.]”
The same code goes on to state the basic requirements for the Statute of Frauds in Tennessee. There are two primary requirements that must be satisfied if your contract would purport to fall under the Statute of Frauds:
i. There must be a writing;
ii. The writing must be signed by the person against whom enforcement is sought;
Beyond those basic requirements there exists additional requirements and terms that must be present within your “writing” to satisfy the Statute of Frauds. Those requirements require all essential terms and an adequate description of the property to be sold or leased.
Failure to meet these minimum requirements in a contract for the sale of real property (land or homes) may likely be fatal to the sale process and leave the buyer or sellers exposed to legal liability. While this unique subsect within the law of contracts may appear simple there are many layers and wrinkles within the law that need to be analyzed.
Additional defenses to the enforcement of a contract, or pitfalls in the drafting of the same may be present but not apparent to any layperson. As always, it is safest for everyone involved to retain the services of an attorney whenever they’re unsure of their current status.
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like a trusted attorney to review your documents feel free to reach out to Wayne with Best and Brock for a full analysis and potential advice.