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Enforcing Real Estate Contracts Through Specific Performance

If a party signs a contract for a real estate transaction and then backs out, the other party may ask the court to force the transaction to go through. In legal terms, this is known as "specific performance."

The court may actually order the defendant in these lawsuits to perform the duties that were agreed to in the contract. It is an alternative to awarding monetary compensation in a breach of contract civil lawsuit. Specific performance often is granted when the amount of damage is unclear, or when the damage is more than a matter of losing money. For example, if a property that is sold is unique and a similar property cannot be found, the court may order the sale to go through.

The lawyers at Rosado, Apat & Dudley represent clients on both sides of specific performance cases. We understand what it takes to successfully prosecute or defend these cases.

Requirements For Specific Performance Lawsuits

A complaint for specific performance must allege:

  • The terms of the contract are certain — The seller and the buyer are clearly identified, the price is stated and the description of the property being sold is clear.
  • The buyer agreed to pay adequate consideration — The seller entered into the contract willingly and the contract was just.
  • The plaintiff performed and/or tendered performance — Whether the plaintiff is the buyer or the seller, that party must have met his or her obligations under the agreement in order to enforce the contract.
  • There must be a breach of contract — Typically, this is a failure to go to a closing and transfer title.
  • A money award is inadequate — Because all real estate is considered unique the court will consider monetary damages inadequate.

Act Promptly If A Deal Is Falling Apart

A seller may breach a contract for a variety of reasons. Someone may get a substantially higher offer after signing a contract. Other cases may involve buyer or seller remorse, or a seller's deal to buy a new property may have fallen through, leaving them nowhere to go.

It is best to enlist our experienced legal counsel at the first sign that a transaction of real property is encountering trouble. If there is a dispute, we can file a "lis pendens," which alerts other potential buyers that a lawsuit is pending. This makes the property difficult to sell until the legal dispute is resolved.

Meet With One Of Our Knowledgeable Attorneys

We welcome the opportunity to review your real estate matter and recommend an effective course of action. We represent clients in all five New York City boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. Call 800-708-8917 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation in our Hicksville office or any of our other locations.