Gone are the days when all real estate transactions are individually signed by each party and completed contracts are exchanged on paper. Rather, in today's digital age, many dealings are handled through electronic signatures, or what are deemed to be electronic signatures, with no exchange of actual signed paper documents. While this has sped up the pace of forming and finalizing real estate contracts, and created great convenience for buyers, sellers, real estate agents and attorneys, it also raises important questions about when and if a contract has been formed, the terms of that contract and, of course, has created fertile ground for disputes. There are two primary types of disputes that have emerged. One concerns whether negotiations conducted via email or even text message can form a valid and binding agreement. The second involves whether a written contract, the terms to which have been agreed to, can be made effective without an ink to paper signature. In either instance, it behooves participants in transactions involving the sale or lease of real property to understand what constitutes a legally binding agreement in the state of Massachusetts.
Talk to most about buying commercial real estate in Boston and you are bound to hear many of the positives, including additional cash flow and a more open buying market than one may see with residential real estate. However, even though there are certainly many benefits to buying commercial real estate in the Boston area, it is imperative to take certain steps from the very beginning to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
A recent Land Court case, while not binding authority, reminds us yet again of how much the forming of a valid contract for the sale of land hinges on the language communicated by and between the parties during the offer and acceptance phase.