Even multimillion-dollar real estate deals are settled by e-mails and text messages these days, according to “The E-Mail Handshake” by Vivian S. Toy (The New York Times, Real Estate, page 1, April 26, 2009). While not all real estate agents, homebuyers, and sellers may agree on the virtues of e-mail negotiation, trying to stop the trend is like using an umbrella to block a tsunami. So the best we can do is to review the benefits and drawbacks of e-mail negotiation, and to counter the negatives without diminishing the positives.
In summary, the article says the plusses include the permanency of recording “conversations” and the convenience of informing everyone simultaneously. On the minus side are the difficulty in communicating nuance and emotion as well as the confusion that can result from missing, incomplete, or ambiguous information.
To resolve potential conflicts, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting with the parties involved—even though another e-mail is sure to follow.