Appeal from the Order Entered July 25, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County Civil Division at No(s): 2008-1273 C.P.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gantman, J.:
BEFORE: GANTMAN, J., LAZARUS, J., and MUNDY, J.
Appellants, George and Carol Zuk, appeal from the order entered in the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas,*fn1 directing Appellants to convey certain real property to Appellees, Joseph and Betty Zuk.*fn2 We affirm.
The relevant facts and procedural history of this case are as follows. The real property at issue originally consisted of approximately ninety-seven and one-eighth acres of land located in Clifford Township. At that time,
Appellants, Appellees, and Michael and Susan Zuk,*fn3 owned the property as tenants in common. Appellants held a ten-twelfths interest in the property; Appellees held a one-twelfth interest, and Michael and Susan Zuk held a one-twelfth interest. In 1995, Appellants and Appellees conveyed approximately thirteen acres of the original property to Michael and Susan Zuk, in exchange for their interest in the land.
As a result of the transfer, the remaining property consisted of approximately eighty-four and one-eighth acres of land. Appellants held a seven-eighths interest and Appellees held a one-eighth interest in the remaining property. Sometime in 2000, George and Joseph Zuk discussed how to divide the remaining eighty-four and one-eighth acre parcel between them. They agreed that Appellees should retain a thirteen-acre parcel "free and clear" in exchange for their interest in the property, consistent with the thirteen acres Appellants and Appellees had previously conveyed to Michael and Susan Zuk. George and Joseph Zuk then negotiated for the sale of an additional seventeen acres to Appellees for the purchase price of $1,600.00 per acre. George and Joseph Zuk stood on the subject property and together pointed out the boundaries for the total thirty (30) acres*fn4 Appellees would receive (thirteen acres "free and clear" plus seventeen acres at $1,600.00 per acre).
Despite the negotiations and oral agreement, George and Joseph Zuk did not reduce their agreement to a formal writing. Nevertheless, on October 6, 2004, Joseph Zuk tendered a check for ten thousand dollars to Appellants. The check was marked: "for down payment on land." Shortly thereafter, Appellants endorsed the check, marking it: "deposit only."
Following the discussions, Joseph Zuk, at his sole expense, also improved a road on the thirty-acre parcel by installing a sub base for a running length of about one thousand feet. Additionally, at his own expense and labor, Joseph Zuk began construction of a tool shed and a 25' x 32' cabin on the thirty- acre parcel. On October 9, 2007, Appellant Carol Zuk sent a memo to Joseph Zuk explaining that Appellees owned 19.25 acres of the property, and owed Appellants $17,200.00 for a remaining 10.75 acres (totaling 30 acres).
On August 28, 2008, Appellants filed a complaint seeking, inter alia, partition of the entire eighty-four and one-eighth acre property. Appellants' complaint did not mention the agreement between the parties concerning the thirty-acre parcel. Appellees filed an answer, new matter, and counterclaim on December 10, 2008. In their counterclaim, Appellees alleged the parties had a contract for the sale of land and sought specific performance and asked the court to direct Appellants to convey to Appellees the thirty-acre parcel for the remaining balance of $17,200.00.
On July 11, 2011, the court held a bench trial solely on the issue of specific performance alleged in Appellees' counterclaim. On July 25, 2011, the court entered an order directing Appellants to convey to Appellees the full thirty-acre parcel, upon payment of the $17,200.00 balance and the furnishing of a legal description of the property by Appellees. Appellants timely filed a motion for post-trial relief on August 3, 2011. Following arguments on the motion, the court denied relief on October 4, 2011.
Appellants timely filed a notice of appeal on October 20, 2011. The court did not order Appellants to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b), and Appellants filed none.
Appellants raise the following issues for our review:
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW BY GRANTING SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE TO [APPELLEES], WHERE:
(1) THE STATUTE OF FRAUDS BARS [APPELLEES']
COUNTERCLAIM FOR SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE FOR THE SALE OF LAND;
(2) THERE WAS NO "MEETING OF THE MINDS";
(3) THE DEFENSE EXHIBITS 2 AND 3 WERE
ADMITTED AND RELIED UPON IN ERROR BECAUSE THEY CONSTITUTED INADMISSIBLE HEARSAY AND WERE NOT AUTHENTICATED?
(Appellants' Brief at 3).
The relevant standard and scope of review are as follows:
[We are] limited to a determination of whether the findings of the trial court are supported by competent evidence and whether the trial court committed error in the application of law. Findings of the trial judge in a non-jury case must be given the same weight and effect on appeal as a verdict of a jury and will not be disturbed on appeal absent error of law or abuse of discretion. When this Court reviews the findings of the trial judge, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the victorious party below and all evidence and proper inferences favorable to that party must be taken as true and all unfavorable inferences rejected.
Hart v. Arnold, [884 A.2d 316, 330-31] (Pa.Super.
2005), appeal denied, 587 Pa. 695, 897 A.2d 458 (2006). The [trial] court's findings are especially binding on appeal, where they are based upon the credibility of the witnesses, unless it appears that the court abused its discretion or that the court's findings lack evidentiary support or that the court capriciously disbelieved the evidence. Conclusions of law, however, are not binding on an appellate court, whose duty it is to determine whether there was a proper application of law to fact by the [trial] court. With regard to such matters, our scope of review is plenary as it is with any review of questions of law.
Shaffer v. O'Toole, 964 A.2d 420, 422-23 (Pa.Super. 2009), appeal denied, 602 Pa. 679, 981 A.2d 220 (2009) (quoting Christian v. Yanoviak, 945 A.2d 220, 224-25 (Pa.Super. 2008)) (some ...