Assume Aunt Bea’s February 22 message left on Dollar’s voicemail is an offer; do Dollar and Aunt Bea have a contract?

Oliver Dollar decided to sell his ancestral home, Forde Abbey, a large mansion located on 100 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. On February 1, he placed the following advertisement in The Rich & Shameless Report, a magazine read by the very wealthy:

Offer For Sale: Forde Abbey, to the first acceptable purchaser for $6 million, minimum. Please telephone or send a letter to Oliver Dollar, 1 Forde Abbey Way, Weston, Freedonia 21200 if you desire further details or accept this offer.

On February 12, Dollar received a letter from Professor Irwin Corey, the world’s foremost authority,  that said: “I simply must have Forde Abbey. I promise to purchase Forde Abbey for $7 million. It is important to me that we close on March 2.”

On February 15, Dollar mailed Corey a letter that said: “I agree to sell Forde Abbey to you under the terms mentioned in your letter of February 12, but I will be out of town on March 2. The closing can be on any other day you are available. Let me know.” Corey never received Dollar’s letter; although adequately addressed and postmarked, it got lost in the mail.

On February 22, Dollar’s Aunt Bea left a message on Dollar’s voicemail; she said:

“Hello, Oliver; this is your Aunt Bea. I heard you plan to sell Forde Abbey. I will buy Forde Abbey from you and pay $100,000.00 more than the highest offer you receive. Now write to anyone you received offers from and tell them Forde Abbey is not for sale.”

On February 27, Dollar wrote to Corey and explained that although he had sent a letter accepting Corey’s offer, he has found a way to keep Forde Abbey in his family and cannot go through with the deal. Dollar also wrote to everyone who had contacted him and let them know that Forde Abbey was no longer for sale.

On February 29, Aunt Bea died. The Executor of Aunt Bea’s estate refuses to go through with the purchase of Forde Abbey.

Analyze the legal issues raised by the fact pattern and answer the following questions:

  1. Is Dollar’s advertisement an offer?
  2. Assume that Corey’s February 12 letter is an offer. Is Dollar’s February 15 letter an acceptance or a counteroffer?
  3. Assume Dollar’s February 15 letter is an acceptance; do Dollar and Corey have a contract?
  4. Assume Aunt Bea’s February 22 message left on Dollar’s voicemail is an offer; do Dollar and Aunt Bea have a contract?

Do you agree with the author’s argument? 

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