There are few provisions of state law affecting real estate as misunderstood as the Statute of Frauds. The statute is just that: a statute. The statute is commonly thought to “require” certain contracts, including real estate sale agreements and listings, to be in writing. That is, unfortunately, far too simple and misleading an interpretation of the statute.

Certainly, real estate contracts should be in writing. REALTORS® have long demanded written agreements in all of their activities on behalf of clients through Article 9 of the Code of Ethics. That is just good business and diligent representation. The Statute of Frauds is not about good business. Instead, it is an arcane rule of evidence that can affect the outcome of disputes over contracts. With that basic understanding, we can turn to an examination of the statute itself and its impact on the real estate industry.