Question: I made a written offer to purchase a 90-unit apartment complex in Chandler. The seller accepted in writing my offer. The seller said that because his wife was on the title to the apartment complex, his wife also would have to sign the contract. The seller’s wife was in Europe at the time, but the seller said that, because his wife was not involved in his business affairs, it would be no problem to have his wife sign the contract when she returned from Europe. The seller’s wife has now returned from Europe, but the seller said that she refuses to sign the contract. A major factor in her decision not to sign the contract I believe is that, because apartment prices are rising, the seller has received a better offer from another buyer for the 90-unit apartment complex. Can I require the seller to sell this 90-unit apartment complex to me even though his wife will not sign the contract?
Answer: If the seller promised you that his absent wife would sign the contract when she returned from Europe, the seller should be liable for monetary damages to you for breach of the contract for the 90-unit apartment complex. Unless you can prove, however, that the seller and his wife are fraudulently using the wife’s failure to sign the contract to get out of the contract, you probably will not be able to get title to the 90-unit apartment complex. The contract should have had a contingency that would require the wife to approve and sign the contract within a specified time — for example, 10 days — or the contract could be canceled by you.12