Discover why a handwritten contract for home sale is considered legally binding by B.C. court

Handwritten contract for home sale is legally binding: B.C. court

In a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision, the sale of a $2.89 million home in Richmond, B.C., under a Chinese-language contract came under scrutiny. The court ruling deemed the one-page handwritten document outlining the deal legally binding, putting an end to a nearly seven-year legal battle between two acquaintances, Hong Yang and Xue Li, who first crossed paths in a dance class.

“The plaintiffs were entitled to damages after buyer Xue Li failed to pay an $800,000 deposit instalment agreed upon in what the parties called a ‘Chinese contract’,” Justice Steven Wilson stated in his ruling. The court found that despite challenges in translations, customs, and interpretations, Chinese-language contracts are enforceable in British Columbia.

Buyer lived in the home for nearly 1 year

The ill-fated deal between Yang and Li began in 2017 when Yang initially sought Li’s help in finding a Realtor to sell her large detached home at 3311 Blundell Rd. Instead, Li expressed her interest in purchasing the property. The two parties signed a one-page “Chinese contract” stating the terms of the sale, including a $2.89 million purchase price and a payment schedule for the deposit.

Li resided in the home with her family until April 2018 when she failed to meet the agreed-upon payment terms. Despite claiming difficulty in securing a mortgage, Li managed to obtain mortgages for two other properties during the same period, raising suspicions about the validity of her excuse.

Uncertainties don’t void deal: judge

In response to Yang’s lawsuit for damages, Li argued that the Chinese contract was uncertain and contingent upon her obtaining financing through a mortgage. However, Justice Wilson dismissed these claims, stating that Li was aware of the contract’s terms and failed to fulfill her obligations.

Ultimately, Yang and her husband sold the Blundell Road home to another buyer for a reduced price, resulting in a loss of approximately $400,000 compared to what Li was supposed to pay. Following testimonies from both parties, Wilson awarded Yang and her husband the difference in purchase prices, legal costs, and property fees.

In conclusion, this case highlights the importance of clear communication and financial responsibility in real estate transactions. The ruling sets a precedent for the enforceability of Chinese-language contracts in British Columbia, emphasizing the need for parties to honor their agreements to avoid costly legal disputes. Conducting due diligence and adhering to contract terms can prevent misunderstandings and protect the interests of all parties involved.



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