An Auctioneer at a Sale is, at the Time and for that Purpose, the Agent of Both Seller and Buyer

In Greenberg v. Bailey, 14 N.C. App. 34, 187 S.E.2d 505 (1972), an action was brought for specific performance of alleged written contract to convey real property arising out of auction sale. The District Court found for purchaser and vendors appealed.

The Court of Appeals held that “[a]n ‘auctioneer at a sale is, at the time and for that purpose, the agent of both seller and buyer. . . .’” Id. at 508. (quoting Smith v. Joyce, 214 N.C. 602, 605, 200 S.E. 431, 434).

The court further stated that, “written instruments confirming the sale were delivered to the auctioneer and kept by the auction company as a part of its original records of the sale. In receiving the confirmation, the auctioneer was acting for the buyer as well as the seller and it was unnecessary that the instruments be actually delivered to the buyer in order for the contract of sale to be binding on the parties.” Id.

In addition, “[w]hen an owner sells real property through an agent, the owner is not required to sign the agreement or to communicate with the purchaser. Likewise when a purchaser buys real property through an agent it is not necessary that the agent deliver to him the written acceptance of his offer in order for a binding agreement to arise. ‘(A) principal is chargeable with, and bound by, the knowledge of or notice to his agent received while the agent is acting as such within the scope of his authority and in reference to a matter over which his authority extends, although the agent does not in fact inform his principal thereof.’” Id.

The Court after carefully reviewing all of defendants’ assignments of error stated that no prejudicial error has been shown and held that exhibit, which was entitled ‘sales record and settlement sheet’ indicated that, on date of auction, lot was sold for vendors to purchaser for $10,000 and that terms were $1,000 cash, with balance to be paid on delivery of deed within 60 days, and exhibit, which was plat furnishing specific description of such lot and which was physically attached to sales record and other exhibits at time they were executed, constituted sufficient memorandum of sale to comply with statute of frauds. Id


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