Question: We wanted to buy a beautiful home in Sedona. The problem during the negotiations for the purchase of this home was that we live in Phoenix and the seller lives in Texas. Neither of us were represented by brokers. Most of our negotiations with the seller were by texts between the seller and us. The major terms of the purchase contract were in these texts: the purchase price, the closing date, the name of the escrow company, and that there would be no financing. Each of the seller’s texts had the seller’s name and address at the bottom of the text. After we contacted the escrow company named in the texts to open escrow, the seller then sent us a text saying that he had sold the home to another buyer at a higher purchase price. Do we have an enforceable contract even though we only have texts for the terms of the purchase contract?
Answer: Probably. In a leading Massachusetts appellate court decision, which overruled an earlier Massachusetts appellate court decision, a purchase contract by texts for a $1.5 million parcel of land was enforced. In any real estate transaction, the “bottom line” from the seller’s perspective is that at the scheduled closing date the seller only has to deliver a deed, and pick up a check for the sale proceeds. On the other hand, you as the buyer had the right to have numerous inspections, financing, contingency, and the review of documents such as CC&Rs and title insurance documents. Therefore, inasmuch as your seller knew the amount of the purchase price, knew the closing date, and knew the name of the title company, an Arizona court should enforce this purchase contract against the seller based only on texts.