In the case Natale, et al. v. Ernst, the buyer (Matthew Ernst) purchased a parcel of land from the seller (James Natale) on one side of the highway. Just before closing, the buyer and seller learned that the sale would necessarily include a small lot on the other side of the highway, which would be difficult to subdivide away from the parcel originally planned to be transferred.

The buyer and seller agreed to the sale of both lots at the original purchase price, on the condition that the buyer would make efforts to subdivide the additional lot and transfer it back to the seller and, if unsuccessful obtaining the subdivision by a certain date, have the small lot appraised and pay the seller the fair market value for it.

In the case Natale, et al. v. Ernst, the buyer (Matthew Ernst) purchased a parcel of land from the seller (James Natale) on one side of the highway. Just before closing, the buyer and seller learned that the sale would necessarily include a small lot on the other side of the highway, which would be difficult to subdivide away from the parcel originally planned to be transferred.

The buyer and seller agreed to the sale of both lots at the original purchase price, on the condition that the buyer would make efforts to subdivide the additional lot and transfer it back to the seller and, if unsuccessful obtaining the subdivision by a certain date, have the small lot appraised and pay the seller the fair market value for it.

The buyer, however, was unable to obtain the subdivision by the deadline — nor did he have the property appraised or otherwise follow the agreed-upon procedure to purchase the small lot from the seller. However, the seller’s attorney — with the approval of the buyer’s attorney — continued to pursue subdivision for several years and eventually obtained it, at which time the buyer refused to transfer the lot back to the seller.

At trial, the seller argued that the buyer had waived the deadline. The trial court agreed and ordered the buyer to reconvey the small lot to the seller.

On appeal, the trial court’s ruling was upheld. The appellate court found that the buyer waived enforcement of the deadline. The record reflected numerous letters over the years after the deadline from the buyer’s attorney to the seller’s attorney — copying the buyer — encouraging the seller’s continued efforts to have the lot subdivided, and expressly declaring the buyer’s continued intention to honor the agreement to reconvey the lot.

The buyer acknowledged that while he didn’t recall receiving his copies of these letters, it was entirely possible that he received and "circular filed" them (that is, discarded them). Accordingly, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s finding that the buyer waived the deadline and failed to withdraw the waiver, and upheld the lower court’s order that the buyer reconvey the lot to the seller.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

***

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Hear from Realogy, Pacaso, SERHANT., Spotify, Redfin, Douglas Elliman, and 100+ more leaders at ICNY.Register now×
Limited time: Get 30 days of Inman Select for $5.SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription