Email may hold the same weight as a traditional ink-on-paper agreement

We would like to share the recent ruling of the Court in Naldi v. Grunberg, an Appellate Division, 1st Department, New York Supreme Court case, as we believe that it may be of some interest to you and your colleagues, in deciding what content to include, if any, in emails to prospective buyers in the sale of real property.  Essentially, the New York State Appellate Division has ruled that a “sent email” holds the same weight as a traditional ink-on-paper agreement, when interpreting the statute of frauds.  “Given the vast growth in the last decade and a half in the number of people and entities regularly using e-mail… the terms ‘writing’ and ‘subscribed’…should now be construed” to include both emails and electronic signatures in its expanded interpretation of the statute.  

The statute of frauds, a late 17th Century English law that was adopted in the United States, requires that all contracts for the sale of real property be evidenced by a writing signed by the party to be charged.  The Naldi Court reasoned in its decision that if “the writing and subscription requirements of the statute of frauds have been held in flexible enough to accommodate earlier innovations in communications technology, such as the telegram, the telex, and the fax” then the same application should also be made to the Court’s interpretation of emails in conjunction with the statute of frauds.  

As a result, real estate brokers and sellers of real property should be mindful of the content of emails that they forward to prospective buyers during the sale of real property.   Read the Court’s Opinion

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