We received this question from a referral partner: “if we agree verbally that we’ve accepted an offer, is that binding?” In short, no. To form a valid real estate contract in Massachusetts, the contract must be in writing.

Massachusetts Courts have upheld verbal contracts in other circumstances. There are certain types of contracts, like contracts for the sale of real estate, which must be in writing. Take a look at M.G.L. 259 § 1 if you are curious about the other types of contracts. We often see this become a sticking point in a situation where there are multiple bidders. When the high bidder is notified verbally that their offer has been “accepted,” the high bidder often think the contract is legally accepted. If it’s not in writing, it’s not technically accepted.

You may ask, what officially constitutes “writing?” Massachusetts courts have construed emails as acceptable writing. Be careful, texts may be sufficient to create a binding contract. If you are negotiating terms over text message, be mindful that a valid contract can be formed.

Stiles Law, with offices located in Boston and Marshfield, Massachusetts, is a firm concentrating in real estate conveyancing and mortgage lending services, representing buyers, sellers, borrowers, banks, mortgage companies, investors, builders and developers in all of their real estate and mortgage transactions. Stiles Law serves all areas of eastern Massachusetts–the North Shore, Boston, and Cape Cod, in addition to the entire South Shore, including: Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Hanover, Pembroke, Marshfield, Scituate, Norwell, Cohasset, Hull, Hingham, Weymouth, Braintree, and Quincy.

Copyright © 2019 Stiles Law, All rights reserved. Stiles Law is a Massachusetts licensed law firm and all content is based on Massachusetts law. The information presented above is meant to be used for general informational purposes and it should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts.