About 10 years ago, New City created several community gardens for its residents, divided into individual plots of land to use for gardening and growing food. New City auctioned off the original plots, which were very popular and sold out. Since then, the only way to acquire a community garden plot was to purchase it from the individual owner.
To this end, Gardener sought out Owner, who owned plot 312 in New City’s community gardens. Gardener wrote and signed a letter to Owner stating that a mutual friend had told him that Owner was considering selling plot 312, and, if so, he would be very interested in purchasing it. Owner wrote back, via signed letter:
Yes, our friend was correct when she said I am considering selling. What are you willing to pay?
Gardener replied, again via signed letter:
What wonderful news! I would be happy to pay $10,000 for the plot. What if I mail you a personal check, and you could mail me the deed and keys to the garden fence on November 1?
Owner wrote back, by signed letter:
$10,000 for plot 312 is a fair price. My accountant tells me that it will be better if the plot changes hands after December 1. I’ll sell you plot 312 if you take the following actions: (1) on December 2, you send me a check for $10,000; (2) after I receive your check, I will call the garden manager and tell him to expect a call from you; (3) I will then call you to say I’ve spoken with the manager; and (4) you then go to the garden office and fill out their required paperwork for the plot to change owners.
Gardener replied with a signed letter repeating and agreeing to Owner’s terms.
On December 2, Gardener sent a check for $10,000 to Owner. On December 3, after receiving the check, Owner called the garden manager, and then called Gardener to tell him that the garden manager would be expecting his call.
On December 4, however, Gardener called Owner to say that he had recently purchased another garden plot for only $8,000, would cancel his check, and would not fill out the change of plot owner paperwork. Owner objected, but Gardener said that they had no written agreement and he had never finished the prescribed steps, so there was no enforceable contract.
- Is Gardener correct that the absence of a single written agreement, signed by both parties, means that Gardener and Owner have no enforceable contract? Explain.
- Is Gardener correct that because he did not finish step four in Owner’s final letter, Gardener and Owner have no enforceable contract? Explain.