Purchase agreements for residential property routinely include financing provisions that require the buyer to show that he has applied for a loan. The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently analyzed such a provision in Abdelqader v. Ramos. The plaintiff in Abdelqader entered into a purchase agreement with the defendant for an unimproved lot on which the plaintiff planned to build his home.
The financing provision in the purchase agreement required the buyer to provide the seller with (1) written documentation; (2) from a lender; (3) that a loan application has been made; and (4) that Buyer authorized lender to proceed with the loan approval process. The provision also required that this documentation be provided to the seller “within 3 calendar days after” the date of Agreement.
After the parties executed the purchase agreement, various disputes led the seller to terminate the agreement and re-list the property for sale. The plaintiff sued for stipulated damages and attorney’s fees, which were allowed under the contract if either party breached the purchase agreement.
The buyer introduced evidence that his agent sent the seller’s broker a USDA pre-approval letter and certificate of eligibility for financing under a USDA Rural Development Program. These documents were sent to the seller’s agent before the parties executed the purchasing agreement. Generally, such pre-approval letters show the buyer appears qualified for a loan in the amount of the purchase. They do not confirm a loan was applied for or approved by the lender for the property to be purchased.
The seller argued that the pre-approval letter furnished by the buyer before the parties entered into the purchase agreement was not an actual loan application and did not verify that a loan application for the purchase had been made. The seller also argued that the buyer did not comply with the terms of the financing provision because he did not provide the subject documents within the three-day window after the purchase agreement was signed. The court rejected these arguments. The Court found the agreement did not require the buyer to produce his loan application to the seller or that the loan application be dated within three days of the Agreement. The buyer’s lender produced the pre-approval letter and the certificate of eligibility in response to the buyer’s application for financing and pursuant to the buyer’s instruction to proceed with the loan process. Though its ruling may be limited to the facts of this case, the Court found that the buyer complied with the terms of the financing agreement.
It appears the court viewed the seller’s claim that the seller did not comply with the financing provision of the purchasing agreement as after the fact justification for the seller unilaterally terminating the purchase agreement for some unrelated dispute. The Court found that the seller breached the purchase agreement and awarded the buyer stipulated damages of 10% of the contract price and attorney’s fees. This ruling also serves as a reminder that purchase agreements for residential properties are contracts, and breaches of these contracts can have consequences if terminated on a whim.
Abdelqader v. Ramos, 2022-0305 (La. App. 4 Cir. 11/30/22), 353 So.3d 750.