Sonnenschein v. Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Sonnenschein v. Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives, 274 AD2d 244, 713 N.Y.S.2d 9 [1st Dept 2000], affd 96 NY2d 369, 753 N.E.2d 857, 729 N.Y.S.2d 62 [2001]), the Court observed that:

Real estate negotiations are often characterized by a series of tentative oral agreements between the parties. The parties are nonetheless free to decide against entering into the sale, until the final terms are reduced to writing. The very purpose of the Statute of Frauds, as applied to real estate sales, is to distinguish these provisional agreements to agree' from the final, binding contract (id. at 248-249).

The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the complaint against the defendant broker because, inter alia, the documentary evidence "clearly contemplated that the parties were free to decline to enter into a contract" (96 NY2d at 376).