Legal question re selling real property

Basically, I need to know about the legality of a contract that will not be enforced until sometime in the future, after an event – date uncertain.

Not entirely hypothetical: I own a lot between my house and my neighbor’s house and someone wants to buy it. My neighbor doesn’t want me to sell and I don’t want to piss him off, he’s a nice guy. I’m willing to wait until my neighbor either sells his property, moves away, or dies.

Can I make an agreement with my buyer that says I’ll sell to him when my neighbor is no longer in the picture? The buyer is willing to wait. He’s in no hurry to acquire the lot – he wants it badly but he’s in no hurry. I’d also be promising not to sell the lot to anyone else. But because there’s no way to know when my neighbor will be gone, I’m wondering if such an agreement is enforceable.

Also, if the buyer were to change his mind about buying the lot, that’d be fine with me. He wants it more badly than I want to sell it.

Make sense?

Sell him an option on the lot, contingent upon the neighbor leaving the picture. Cash for you, but no change of ownership.

Yes. It’s your buyer who is taking the risk, though, because RE is not sold (title transferred) until it goes through escrow. I don’t think you can put the transaction in indefinite, years-long escrow. In essence, you would be selling him a revocable option to buy the property when certain conditions apply. The value of the property could fluctuate wildly in that time; he won’t want to be bound to paying 5-10 times as much and you won’t want to take half or a quarter or less of market value.

I think all you can do is sell him the option to buy the property at market value when it comes available within 10 (5? 25?) years, and charge him some appropriate holding fee for doing so.

Ninja’ed. But any RE lawyer should know exactly how to proceed with a purchase option.

Awesome. I didn’t even think about an option. Thanks!

Would it matter that money won’t change hands – that I’ll be trading him my lot for a lot that he owns?

I would have put that in the OP but it was already complicated enough.

Could you also sell him the lot now, but with a restrictive clause in the deed, forbidding him to build on the lot until the neighbor is gone?

That sounds feasible too. Thanks!

Look out for “dies”!

See “Rule Against Perpetuities”.

As stated, if it comes down to having to wait for an estate to be settled, a good lawyer would have it thrown out - not only can you not predict how long he will live (world record is what?) , you cannot predict how long escrow will take - it can be generations fighting.

Many states have passed laws to put a time limit on a “Perpetuity” - 99 years was a number I saw.

His death could be tied up for 99 years.

Never mind reality - we are talking lawyers and definitions. Don’t get involved.
See “unborn Grandmother” “fertile octogenarian” for arguments re Perpetuities

Would this legal objection be circumvented with
“on Mr. White’s property sale or death, or in 50 years, which comes first” ?

IANAL, etc.

It is my understanding that the “or x time, whichever comes first” would establish a set time.

If that is correct, then yes, that clause prevents the perpetuity.