Appeal from Decree of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of York County, No. 85 SU 4129.
Robert Glessner, York, for appellants.
John R. Gailey, Jr., York, for appellees.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Wieand and Del Sole, JJ.
George and Esther Hoover have appealed from an order specifically enforcing against them an agreement to sell to Harold and Laura Hostetter certain residential real estate situated in Hanover, York County. They contend that specific performance was barred by (1) the statute of frauds; (2) the statute of limitations; (3) laches; and (4) an absence of consideration for their promise to convey. These contentions are lacking in merit; and, therefore, we will affirm the trial court's decree.
In the autumn of 1979, George Hoover inquired whether Llewelyn Miller would be interested in buying premises known as 136 North Street in Hanover. The lot was irregular in shape and contained approximately one-seventh (1/7) acre, with a dwelling erected thereon. The house was badly in need of repair and was occupied by an elderly woman who had fallen behind in her payment of rent. Miller said that he was not interested in buying the same but that his daughter, Laura Hostetter, and her husband, Harold, might be interested. They were interested in buying, and, after discussion, a price of thirteen thousand ($13,000.00) dollars was orally agreed upon. The tenant was thereafter evicted, and the Hostetters, with the Hoovers' consent, began to make needed repairs. These repairs included replastering ceilings and walls, replacing the faucets and kitchen sink, installing a kitchen light fixture, hanging kitchen cupboards, replacing windows and a medicine cabinet, and installing a new door lock, as well as fumigating, painting, and carpeting the dwelling.
On January 12, 1980, the parties entered into a written agreement by which the Hoovers agreed to sell and the Hostetters agreed to buy the premises for thirteen thousand ($13,000.00) dollars. The sellers agreed to finance the purchase price, which was to be paid, together with interest at the rate of nine (9%) percent, in monthly payments of one hundred forty-seven and 95/100 ($147.95) dollars for a period of twelve years. Settlement was set for April 15, 1980, but time was not made of the essence. In February, 1980,
the Hostetters occupied the premises, paying the sum of sixty ($60.00) dollars per month in lieu of rent until final settlement.
Prior to April 15, 1980, Harold Hostetter was laid off by his employer, and the parties agreed orally to extend the time for settlement until July 15, 1980. George Hoover rejected a suggestion that the extension be made the subject of a written agreement, saying it was unnecessary. During the intervening months, the Hostetters continued to pay rent at the rate of sixty ($60.00) dollars per month. Prior to July 15, 1980, the Hostetters attempted to make arrangements for final settlement, but George Hoover said it was inconvenient for him to make settlement at that time, and final settlement was delayed indefinitely. The agreement to pay rent at the rate of sixty ($60.00) dollars was also extended indefinitely until final settlement.
Neither party attempted to reschedule final settlement for several years thereafter, although the matter was discussed generally from time to time. The Hostetters continued to occupy the premises during this time, paying rent as agreed and continuing to make repairs. These repairs included wallpapering, replacing the toilet, installing new curbing and sidewalk, enlarging the garage and hanging a new garage door, installing new electrical service to the garage, rebuilding a back porch, replacing a brick patio and landscaping the property. In or about February, 1985, George Hoover arranged and paid for the installation of a new furnace. The price, which was one thousand, five hundred ninety ($1,590.00) dollars, was by agreement to be added to the purchase price. About the same time, the Hostetters began to pay to the Hoovers the sum of one hundred ($100.00) dollars per month as rent.
In August, 1985, Harold Hostetter again attempted to arrange for final settlement, only to be told that the sellers now wanted thirty-five thousand ($35,000.00) dollars for the property and would not transfer title for less. The buyers declined to pay the increased consideration, ...