Email Condo Sale : Court rejects email sale of $155,000 condo
New Brunswick judges have overturned a ruling that allowed a man to buy a condo in Moncton, site unseen, by email.
The buyer, Marc Girouard, sued the seller, Kelty Druet, after Girouard believed he had a deal to buy her two-bedroom unit in October 2010 for $155,000 following an email exchange.
The agreement had been made in seven emails over a two-day period. But three hours after Druet said in an email on Oct. 25, 2010 that she would accept the offer, she changed her mind, saying that her partner, who was out of the country, did not agree with the price.
At the trial in August 2011, the judge agreed with Girouard that the two had reached an agreement, even though Girouard hadn’t seen the unit and had yet to put together a contract through his lawyer that covered all the details of the purchase. The judge decided that since the main points of the contract were agreed to, they had a deal.
Druet appealed the decision, argued the case without a lawyer and in a judgment released on April 26, 2012, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned the lower court.
The appeal court judges did not think that Girouard and Druet really believed that they had a deal. They noted that in one of the emails Girouard wanted his wife to visit the property and found it odd that a buyer would commit to a property without seeing it. That Girouard still wanted his lawyer to draw up a contract implied that he did not think there was a final agreement, they said.
The judges did imply that if the buyer had visited the unit they may have ruled that there was an agreement. In other words, they were willing to accept that an exchange of emails could be joined together to create a deal.
The judges made an interesting observation:
“One marvels at how the typical contract for the purchase and sale of residential property can reach two or more pages of single space type, and yet the common law requires only the 3 P’s on a napkin, Price, Parties and Property.”
The implication of this ruling is that we must recognize that we live in a digital world where people normally communicate by email. Be careful what you write in any email about the sale, purchase or rental of a home. You do not want to inadvertently agree to something that you will later regret.
By Mark Weisleder