Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County, Sixteenth
Judicial Circuit; the Hon. CASSIUS POUST, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
The plaintiff, the owner of a certain farm, brought suit against the defendants, both real estate brokers, for money damages, based upon slander of title; and for a judgment declaring that an option to purchase given to the real estate broker, which contained an exclusive brokerage listing executed between the plaintiff and one defendant, be declared illegal and void and set aside as a cloud upon her title. The defendants, the real estate brokers, brought suit for specific performance, demanding that the plaintiff-owner perform the option in the brokerage listing agreement and deliver to the defendants a deed to said property pursuant to the brokerage listing agreement. The cases were consolidated for trial, jury was waived, and the court entered two judgment orders.
The court entered judgment for the defendants in the plaintiff's case against the real estate brokers. In the suit by the real estate brokers against the plaintiff-owner, the court ordered the plaintiff to comply with the terms of the option contained in the brokerage listing contract, and to execute a deed, among other things, to the defendants. It is from both judgment orders that the plaintiff appeals.
The plaintiff contends that the option in the brokerage listing was fraudulent and unenforceable because Anderson did not make full disclosure of all relevant facts to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff did not receive competent independent advice prior to execution of the contract; that the option was unenforceable because there was no valid consideration; and that the terms of the option were so vague and indefinite as to preclude specific performance of the contract. She further contends that the court abused its discretion in refusing to admit evidence of sales of similar parcels of real estate. With these contentions, we cannot agree.
The plaintiff, Mary Rendl, was the owner of certain farm property consisting of approximately ninety-nine acres. At the time of the transaction and the execution of the contract, she was an 81-year-old widow having attended school through the fifth grade. Her son, Fred Zellhofer, after conferring with his mother and learning of her intentions to sell the farm, went to Anderson in September and a conference ensued pertaining to the sale of his mother's farm. Anderson inquired as to the location of the property, and stated he would look at the property. This conversation lasted approximately fifteen minutes and during the conversation Anderson stated that he had sold another farm nearby at a price of $400 per acre.
Fred Zellhofer had attended school through the fifth or sixth grade and he had previously owned and sold a farm of his own. He stated that the reason his mother wished to sell the farm was that she had a bad tenant, that the farm was in weeds and the buildings were in a state of disrepair.
The defendant, Anderson, was a licensed real estate broker in the State of Illinois and had been a real estate salesman for one year and previously had been in the farming business.
Approximately September 23rd or 24th, Anderson came to Mr. Zellhofer's home where Mrs. Rendl was present, and at that time presented a real estate broker's listing showing the property for sale at a price of $400. The contract stated:
"In consideration of the sum of One Dollar, receipt acknowledged, I hereby give you exclusive sale of my property, described as 99-acre farm, commonly known as the Mary Rendl farm, located on Freeman and Powers Roads, Sections 10 and 15, T 42 N, Range 7-E., Rutland Township, Kane County, State of Illinois. Rights reserved to include legal description. Possession to be obtained on or before March 1, 1966. For a period of (see reverse side) 60 days from this date, at a price of $400.00 per acre subject to an existing incumbrance of $. . . bearing interest at . . . per cent, due. . . or any less sum which I shall agree to accept, and to pay you 6% commission as established by the Chicago Real Estate Board, on such sale price, you have the privilege of purchasing this property during said period, if you so desire. . . .
"In consideration of having given you this exclusive contract, it is understood that you are to advertise and show the property without any expense to me.
and was addressed to "Home Owners Realty, Roy E. Anderson, Broker, Big Timber Road, Elgin, Illinois."
On this occasion when Anderson, Mr. Zellhofer, Mrs. Zellhofer and the plaintiff were present, Mr. Zellhofer specifically inquired from Anderson whether the farm was only worth $400 per acre to which Anderson replied, that was all that it was worth. Anderson explained the option (although it is disputed as to whether or not the plaintiff read the option before signing it). At the instruction of her son, the plaintiff signed the agreement. The plaintiff, her son and her son's wife all stated they did not care who ...