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Action to recover earnest money. Fulton Civil Court. Before Judge Parker.
NICHOLS, Presiding Judge.
A contract for the sale of really which provides that it is contingent upon the ability of the purchaser to obtain a described loan is not void on its face, and a petition by the purchaser seeking a refund of "earnest money" paid to a broker which fails to allege that the purchaser was unable to obtain such loan is subject to general demurrer.
Harold F. Wilder sued Sheldon Simms Co., Inc., and James P. Washington to recover "earnest money" paid to the defendant corporation in connection with a proposed sale of real estate from Washington to the plaintiff and handled by the corporation, a real estate broker. The original petition was in three counts and after demurrers of the defendants were ruled upon the case proceeded to trial and a verdict rendered for the plaintiff on one count. The defendants' motion for new trial based on the usual general grounds only was overruled and error is now assigned on the judgment overruling the general demurrer to one count of the petition and to the judgment overruling the motion for new trial.
In numerous cases decided by the Supreme Court and this court it has been held that where a real estate sales contract provides that it is subject to the buyer obtaining a loan, it is unilateral until such loan is obtained and that prior to such loan being obtained either party may withdraw from the purported contract, and that the "buyer" is not obligated to attempt to procure much loan. See F & C Investment Co. v. Jones, 210 Ga. 635 (81 SE2d 828); Wehunt v. Pritchett, 208 Ga. 441 (67 SE2d 233); and Teague v. Adair Realty &c. Co., 92 Ga. App. 463, 467 (88 SE2d 795). The alleged contract in the present case is worded somewhat differently from those in the above cited cases in that here the contract is contingent upon the purchaser's ability to obtain a loan on the property. In the F. & C. Investment Co. case, p. 637, supra, Justice Almand, speaking for the Supreme Court said: "The fact that they were able to secure the loan, or that third parties were willing to make the loan, does not relieve the contract of the deficiency as to mutuality, for the reason that performance of the contingency rests solely upon the act of the defendants in procuring the loan, and not upon their ability to procure the loan or the willingness of another, not a party to the contract, to make this loan." From such language it is apparent that the Supreme Court considered contracts which placed the contingency, in spite of the purchaser's ability, in his sole discretion different from those where the contingency is based on the purchaser's ability to obtain a loan or on the willingness of third parties' to make such loan. In such cases it is incumbent upon the purchaser seeking a refund of the "earnest money" to 'show that he was unable to procure such loan after a diligent effort. In Murphy v. Morse, 96 Ga. App. 513, 515 (100 SE2d 623), the purchaser alleged that the contract was subject to his obtaining a Veterans' Administration loan, that he was unable to obtain much loan, and that the contract was therefore unenforceable. Had count 2 of the plaintiff's redrafted petition alleged that the plaintiff was unable to obtain the loan the count would not have been subject to general demurrer; however in the absence of such allegation the trial court erred in overruling the general demurrer attacking such count.
Nor was the contract void, as contended by the plaintiff because the terms of the loan to be procured were not definite. See Cole v. Cutler, 96 Ga. App. 891 (102 SE2d 82); and Teague v. Adair Realty &c. Co., 92 Ga. App. 463, supra. The trial court erred in overruling the defendants' general demurrer to the count of the petition originally denominated as count 3 and in the redrafted petition as count 2. The further proceedings were nugatory.
Judgment reversed. Frankum and Jordan, JJ., concur.
Charles H. Bruce, contra.
Lewis R. Slaton, for plaintiffs in error.
Friday May 22 22:30 EDT

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