After your buyer’s offer was verbally “accepted,” what the listing agent is telling you is that the seller currently intends on signing he Offer but until the seller signs it, it is not binding.
In order for a contract for the sale of land in Massachusetts to be enforceable, it must comply with the statute of frauds (Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 259 Section 1). The statute of frauds states that no action shall be brought upon a contract for the sale of real property unless it is in writing and signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought. In other words, a verbally accepted offer is not binding until it is signed by the seller. Further, the license law also contains a provision requiring all licensees give both the “buyer and seller a copy of the purchase and sale agreement.” (M.G.L. Chapter 112 Section 87AAA). Brokers are encouraged to establish office policies to ensure compliance with these rules and ensure that their client or customer doesn’t lose out on an opportunity to purchase the home of their choice.
REALTORS® also have an ethical duty regarding documentation in real estate transactions. Article 9 of the Code of Ethics requires that “REALTORS®, for the protection of all parties, shall assure whenever possible that agreements shall be in writing, and shall be in clear and understandable language expressing the specific terms, conditions, obligations and commitments of the parties. A copy of each agreement shall be furnished to each party upon their signing or initialing.” This article falls under a REALTORS® obligations to clients and customers, however, compliance with the article will help ensure compliance with the law.
In summary, if the listing agent tells you the offer was “accepted,” the buyer agent must ask if it has been signed by the sellers yet. If the listing agent says "yes", ask for a copy and the offer is enforceable. If they say "not yet" but they are getting it signed, you should not advise your buyer that it has been accepted. Until the buyer agent is informed the offer has been executed by all parties and has a copy of it, the seller may still accept another offer so you as the buyer agent are missleading your buyers by building a false expectation that they have an accepted offer.
For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the GBAR Brokerage Counseling Hotline at 617-399-7869 or email BrokerageCounselingHotLine@gbreb.com