Earlier this year, the Idaho Supreme Court in Ray v. Frasure, 146 Idaho 625 (2009), ruled that a contract for the purchase and sale of real property in the State of Idaho is not enforceable if the contract lacks a legal description. The Court specifically held that a real estate contract consisting solely of a physical address does not satisfy the statue of frauds.
In a nutshell, the statute of frauds says that certain types of agreements, such as contracts for the purchase and sale of real property, must be reduced to a written document. The obvious reason behind this rule is to prevent fraudulent individuals from merely claiming they entered into a verbal contract for the sale of real estate. In other words, the courts don’t want the arduous task of hearing claims of “he said, she said” without some hard evidence of the transaction.
Well established Idaho law has consistently held that a contract for the sale of real property must speak for itself without resorting to parole (oral) evidence to provide any of the terms of the agreement, including the description of the property to be purchased. In short, the Frasure Court held that a common or physical address alone, without a proper legal description in a real estate contract is unenforceable because it does not designate “exactly” the property to be conveyed from the seller to the buyer. Further, if you attach a legal description to the back of your contract (opposed to typing the legal description in the body of the contract itself), make sure you attach it before the agreement is signed and not after the fact.
Although there are some exceptions to the statue of frauds rule, it is often times difficult to get around. So, a word to the wise, if you are in the process of selling or purchasing real property in Idaho, make sure you don’t forget to include a proper legal description before the agreement is entered into or you run the risk that the contract won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.
About the Author:
Chad E. Bernards is an attorney at the Idaho Business Law Group, PLLC, located in Meridian, Idaho. You can find him at idahobusinesslawgroup.com, email at email@example.com.