Hazel Miller (defendant) owned property that she listed for sale. Michael Normile (plaintiff) was shown the property by Richard Byer, a real-estate broker. Byer assisted Normile in making an offer on the property. The offer indicated that it would expire at a specified time. Miller returned the original offer form to Normile. She had made several changes on the offer form, all of which were initialed by her. One change regarded the payment of the purchase price. The specified time for expiration of the original offer was not changed. Normile believed that this counteroffer constituted an option contract, so he decided to wait and consider the counteroffer rather than respond to it immediately. Miller then sold the property to another purchaser, and Byer informed Normile that the property had been sold. Later that same day, Normile attempted to accept the offer. Miller refused to acknowledge the contract. Normile filed suit seeking specific performance of the contract. Normile filed a motion for summary judgment, but the trial court denied the motion, and the appellate court affirmed. Normile appealed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina.