Technological advances are staggering these days. We can work remotely from anywhere in the world as long as we have internet access. Our children can attend school virtually. We can even buy a home without physically seeing it.
But even with all the possibilities, there are some limitations, as was recently discussed in a case out of Florida.
In this case, a potential buyer had his agent reach out to a seller to make an offer to purchase a home for $3.1 million. The seller countered with a request for $3.4 million, and the buyer agreed. All the correspondence occurred via email. The seller then responded accepting the offer through text message. The buyer texted back confirming receipt. A few days letter, the seller emailed the buyer reiterating acceptance and a closing date. A few days after that, the seller sent another email stating that the seller had a change of heart and was moving forward with a different buyer.
The buyer filed a lawsuit for specific performance — a court order to force the seller to move forward with the sale as outlined in the conversation above. Ultimately, the court stated that since the negotiations did not include signatures of either parties, there was no enforceable contract. The law the court relied on in its ruling was the statute of frauds. This law essentially states that no action for the sale of land can move forward unless there are written and signed documents outlining the sale.
As a result, the court found in favor of the seller and dismissed the case.
This case serves as a reminder to make sure that real estate negotiations follow all applicable laws. A failure to do so can result in an unenforceable contract. As to the question above, can you buy a house with an email? In some cases, the answer is yes. If the parties in this example had signed the documents the buyer would likely have had a stronger case.