Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Puerto Rico

Q: When can a buyer not sue a seller for not following thru on contract?

I accidentally signed a eContract for selling my house in puerto rico and then notified both buyer and broker 30 minutes afterwards before either of them noticed contract was docusigned and notified them that the signing was a mistake.

And then later same day texted both of them that I'm canceling house sale and not moving.

No money was exchanged.

Or escrowed into our account.

Now buyer is saying he is going to sue me for damages for not obliging to contract that was accidentally signed.

Is that legit?

I thought if money was exchanged or escrowed that would make contract legal and onlythen he would have president to sue me?

And if notified that it was a mistake before even noticing the email was signed wouldn't it give him no reason to have damages because of the quick communication.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: Normal sales option contracts require that a buyer provide an option to take the proposed real estate off the market during the sales term. You may not have received money, but the realtor may have received an option deposit to be kept in an escrow account until the sales deed is signed by the seller and the buyer. The receipt of option money is normally achieved after both the seller and the buyer sign the sales option contract; and the buyer signs the contract only after the seller has signed it.

I can certainly understand accidentally esigning a document; and a case may be made for the fact that you immediately notified all involved (how immediate is a matter of proof). Nevertheless, the eContracts that I've read require the seller to e-initialize in multiple sites on different pages, as well as e-signing at the end of the document. If this is your case, the "accidental" nature of your signing may be harder to sell to a court of law. Nevertheless, the eContract's terms must be considered: is there an exit clause in place that would allow you a term within which to go back on your decision to sell?

The immediacy of your regret and the speed with which you contacted the other parties may help you, as well as the fact that no money was exchanged. A case may be made for the fact that the proposed buyer or the proposed realtor had no time to act upon your representation that you would go through with the sale. Yet, the other party always has a right to claim before the courts, regardless of whether a valid cause of action is available.

From what you've told me, the buyer's cause is slim at best: assuming that he submitted his contract option, typical sales option contracts provide a clause to return the entire amount to the buyer if the sale does not go through for reasons attributable to the buyer.

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