The Market

E-Nailed: The accidental real estate deal

By Teri Karush Rogers | February 7, 2011 - 2:56PM 

Real estate agents increasingly negotiate deals via email or text rather than telephone or in person.  If that includes your agent, listen up: A little-noticed New York appellate court decision last fall ruled that legally enforceable real estate contracts binding buyers and sellers can arise from email between their real estate agents.  What does that mean for you? According to Robert Braverman, the Manhattan real estate lawyer who alerted us to the case, it's a good reason to instruct your broker to pick up the phone, as oral contracts for real estate are not enforceable.  Alternatively, he says, emails should include "very clear caveats that the emails do not constitute formal offers or acceptances and cannot constitute a valid, binding agreement."  

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