Real Estate Contracts And Specific Performance

21 Mar

When a buyer and seller enter into a real estate contract and the seller breaches, a buyer may elect instead of money damages to

get a court order for specific performance. This is a remedy whereby the buyer asks the court to force the parties to go through with the transaction. We see this where when a project relies on a specific location or where the land under contract is part of a larger development. Or it could be that home or condo the buyer just has to have.

If the buyer however fails to comply with the steps required under California law the lawsuit for specific performance may be unsuccessful. What must a buyer prove? (1) The terms of the contract must be definite and certain. The contract therefore must be clear as to the parties, description of the property, price, terms, time deadlines, etc. The court is usually reluctant to fill in missing terms for you. (2) The amount of money buyer is paying must be ” adequate”. This means there is some reasonable relationship between the market value of the property and the price offered. (3) The buyer must have performed his/her end of the agreement. This is the one area where buyers lose their case. If the buyer has not deposited the full purchase price into escrow by the time stated in the contract, the court will deny the buyer specific performance under the contract. The court must be satisfied that the buyer has the funds necessary to close the transaction otherwise it is not going to force the seller to transfer the deed. (4) The buyer must prove that the seller breached the agreement. Buyer must show that he/she deposited the purchase price but seller refused to go forward with the sale.

The rule to be learned here is that when your real estate deal starts to fall apart, seek legal advice immediately. There may be certain steps that need to be taken before proceeding with a lawsuit. Just because a seller is refusing to cooperate does not mean a buyer’s case is automatic.

Stephen J. Gross is an attorney located in West Los Angeles  specializing in real estate law, business transactions, corporation law, contracts law, wills and trusts, and asset protection. A free 1/2 hour  phone consultation is offered to Pages LA readers. To learn more about our office please visit


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