Nowadays, it is not uncommon for real estate brokers to communicate with their clients and negotiate deals through text messages. The use of text messages in that context has given rise to a new legal issue: whether an exchange of text messages between brokers can create an enforceable contract for the sale of land.
According to the Supreme Judicial Court, a real estate broker must "exercise reasonable care" not only in making representations about a property, but also in determining whether to rely on a seller's information about that property. See DeWolfe v. Hingham Centre, Ltd., 464 Mass. 795, 796 (2013). After roughly four years of looking, the Plaintiff in DeWolfe, a professional hair stylist, found a property he liked, thanks to newspaper and MLS listings by the sellers' broker. Id. at 796-98. The broker advertised the property as zoned with a "Business B" designation, which would permit "hairdresser" as a use on the scale Plaintiff anticipated. Id. Shortly after the conveyance, however, Plaintiff learned the property in fact was zoned "Residential B," a designation permitting perhaps a small, home-based hairdressing business but not the six-station hair salon Plaintiff had planned to establish. Id. at 798.