We had a verbal agreement 15 yrs ago that my family would live in the house and Maintain and improve the home and property. With the promise of it being given to us at some point. These are long time family friends and I know I should have gotten it in writing. They have now decided to sell the property and although they have offered first chance at it if I cannot secure financing do I have any real recourse. I have improved this house and land over the years. Which has increased its value by 80,000-100,000 Am I screwed?

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    Where are you located? Almost all jurisdictions require that the transfer of real property be in writing, so there is almost no legal recourse unfortunately. – Ron Beyer Aug 3 '19 at 17:38
  • Did you pay rent as well as improve the property? – mkennedy Aug 4 '19 at 15:47

I can't speak for US law. But in the UK these promises of land are not uncommon and are treated as trusts or gifts depending on the context.

The name for this situation is called proprietary estoppel

The classic example is where the owner of land, throughout the years, tells people that someone else is eventually going to take over the land. Then the landowner and the person get into an argument, and the landowner takes back his promise. Depending on the circumstances, even if there was no contract, a court may enforce the landowner's promise.

Elements such as whether you contributed to the maintenance and value to the property (as you stated), whether the original owners have acted consistently or inconsistently with their promise are all factors affecting whether you have ownership or an interest in the property.

Due to the value of the property, it is essential for you to contact a lawyer.

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