Spouse is not Required to Sign Purchase Contract

Is there ever a time when a spouse is not required to sign purchase contract?

  Question: The seller signed my written purchase offer for an apartment complex in Mesa. The seller said that, however, because his spouse was also on the title to this apartment complex, his wife would have to sign my written purchase offer which she told him she would when she returned from a Colorado ski trip. I then applied for financing and ordered a home inspection and a termite inspection. The seller’s spouse has now returned, but refuses to sign my written purchase offer. (Her decision not to sign the written purchase offer is probably because our broker said that the seller has received a much better offer for the apartment complex.) Can I require the seller and his wife to sell this apartment complex to me? Is there ever a time when a spouse is not required to sign purchase contract?

  Answer: The signature of an absent co-owner such as a seller’s spouse is generally a requirement to enforce any written purchase contract. If you can prove, however, that the seller’s wife agreed to your written purchase offer, e.g., an email from the seller’s wife to her husband stating that she would sign your written purchase offer upon returning from her Colorado ski trip, but she changed her mind because of a better offer, a judge could require the seller’s wife to sign your written purchase offer.

With the requisite evidence a judge could order the equitable remedy of specific performance requiring the sellers to perform under the purchase contract.

The idea behind requiring a seller of real property to perform, instead of the seller paying an amount equal to the buyer’s losses (like inspection costs above), is because owning a particular piece of real property is a unique venture. When a buyer is not able to purchase a certain piece of real property because of a seller’s breach of contract, damages cannot be easily assessed outside of making the seller perform under the purchase agreement.

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