Specific Performance in Real Estate Litigation

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Real estate contracts differ from all other types of contracts because every piece of property is unique. Unlike a contract for the purchase of a million identical widgets, for example, it is impossible to walk away from a real estate contract and find the exact same piece of property elsewhere. Because of the uniqueness of the real estate market, the courts are known to grant specific performance in real estate litigation disputes. If you are involved in a real estate transaction, it is important to understand what specific performance is and how it might affect you during a real estate dispute.


What is Specific Performance?

Technically speaking, specific performance is an equitable remedy for a breach of contract in a real estate dispute. When one party asks for specific remedy, they are asking the court to force the other side to perform their end of the transaction. Specific performance is generally only granted when money damages would not be enough to resolve the issue.

The most common reason that specific performance is used as a remedy is because the issue involves a unique piece of property. Common examples of unique property include pieces of artwork, custom made products, and rare goods. Because every piece of real property is considered unique, this is a common remedy in real estate litigation.


How Specific Performance Works in a Real Estate Litigation

In a real estate litigation, specific performance is typically considered as a remedy when a buyer and seller agree on the terms of a real estate contract, but the seller decides that they no longer wish to part with the property. The buyer goes to court and proves that the property was paid for or that the funds are ready and waiting to be transferred.

The judge will review the terms of the contract for the piece of real estate, to ensure that there is no significant inequities in the terms. So long as there was no inequitable conduct on the part of the buyer and it is established that monetary damages would not be enough to compensate for the loss of real estate, the judge will order the seller to relinquish the property to the buyer.

Courts will typically only order specific performance for a piece of real estate property if the terms of the contract are fair and equitable. In addition, this remedy will only be considered if the party asking for specific performance has already performed their side of the contract or is currently prepared to do so once the remedy is ordered by the court. In a real estate litigation, this typically means proving that the real estate has already been paid for or that the funds are ready to be transferred as soon as the specific performance is sanctioned by the court.


Contact a Real Estate Attorney

If you are faced with a dispute over real estate, having an experienced real estate attorney can make or break your litigation. Contact Wagenseller Law Firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your real estate matter.

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