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Wegner v. Schauer

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 25, 2017

DAVID WEGNER and KELLY WEGNER, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
BERT SCHAUER and DIANA SCHAUER, Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Monona County, Edward A. Jacobson, Judge.

         Plaintiffs appeal from an adverse judgment in a claim for breach of contract. AFFIRMED.

          Peter J. Leo of Norelius Nelson Law Firm, Denison, for appellants.

          Angie J. Schneiderman of Moore, Heffernan, Moeller, Johnson & Meis, L.L.P., Sioux City, for appellees.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, JUDGE.

         David and Kelly Wegner brought this suit for breach of a residential real estate contract against Bert and Diana Schauer after the Schauers failed to close on the parties' purported agreement. The Schauers asserted several affirmative defenses and made counterclaims for fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and intentional interference with a business relationship against the Wegners. In their breach-of-contract claim, the Schauers sought the return of their earnest money deposit in the amount of $5000. The case was tried to the district court. The district court found the parties had not entered into a final, enforceable contract. The district court also found and concluded the Schauers were entitled to the return of their earnest money. The Wegners timely filed this appeal.

         I.

         The Wegners owned and resided in two residential properties locally known as 955 and 965 East Lake Shore Drive in Lake View, Iowa. The property at 965 was the main home. The property at 955 was a smaller guest house, which David referred to as the "man cave." In 2014, the Wegners decided to sell the properties. The Wegners listed the property, but the listing generated little interest. The Wegners allowed the listing to expire in March 2015.

         Approximately one month later, Bert approached David about purchasing both properties. The Wegners showed the Schauers the properties. After the viewing, David and Bert commenced negotiations on the sale of the homes. They communicated via phone calls, text messages, and personal conversations. The negotiations carried on for several months and involved extensive back and forth, primarily on the structure of the transaction. David and Bert were both experienced in the business of buying, selling, and renting residential real estate.

         At the same time the parties were negotiating the sale of the properties, they were both involved in other residential real estate transactions. The Wegners were purchasing a home in Carroll, contingent on the sale of the properties at issue. The Schauers were selling their home to their niece.

         On July 8, 2015, David, Bert, and Diana met to sign a purchase agreement.[1] The Wegners were in need of a written purchase agreement to move forward with the purchase and finance of the Carroll home, and the parties agreed to meet to sign a purchase agreement for that purpose. The Wegners' attorney drafted the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement was not shown to the Schauers until they arrived for the signing. The agreement, signed by both parties, provides:

The purchase price shall be $387, 500, payable at Sac County, Iowa, as follows: $5000.00 down and credit at closing. Payment and closing on or before 8/7/2015. $162, 000.00. Remainder paid on contract: $225, 500.00 at 4% over 30 years; payments of $1076.57 on the 15th of each.

         The agreement includes a handwritten notation, added by David, which reads "Balloon PMT to be 8/17/2017." At the time of signing, the Schauers ...


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