Real estate contract disputes can arise over the selling and purchase of property. Given that transfers in real estate have much at stake, these disputes can often become contentious and require the assistance of an experienced property attorney.
Avoiding Real Estate Disputes in the First Place
Avoiding a potential problem in the first place in a real estate contract should always be a central consideration in entering into such an agreement. If you are considering selling or purchasing property, you should always seek the assistance of an experienced attorney in preparing such an agreement. An attorney can often help identify potential problems that might arise later on, and offer advice to protect yourself if a dispute develops.
Ways to Protect Real Estate When a Dispute Arises
A primary, immediate concern for real estate contract disputes is protecting the underlining property. For example, if you entered into a contract to purchase property, and the seller intends to sell the property to someone else, your immediate goal is to do something to stop the sale. Similarly, if the subject property is being damaged or neglected, you would want something done immediately to cure the problem. Fortunately, the law offers some safeguards when these problems arise.
One common device used in real estate contract disputes is a lis pendens. A lis pendens is a notice of a lawsuit involving an interest in real property, which is recorded in the land records. This is a simple notice stating the name and case number of the underlining lawsuit, which must be endorsed by the court. A lis pendens is effective in real estate contract disputes because, as a public document, it puts any potential buyers of the property on notice about the underlining lawsuit. Few buyers would be willing to purchase real estate if the property is subject to ongoing legal action.
Another effective tool for protecting real estate is an injunction. An injunction is a court order restraining or compelling a party to do a particular act. A court, for example, could issue an injunction stopping a party from damaging property is there is reason to believe such damage is occurring. An essential requirement of an injunction is irreparable harm. A court will not issue an injunction is money is the only thing that may be lost; a court will need to be convinced that a loss will occur that money alone cannot solve.
What Can You Get in a Real Estate Contract Dispute?
Contract disputes are generally about money, and determining the proper amount to give to someone for damages. However, for contract disputes where money alone will not help an injured party, the law provides for the remedy of specific performance. Specific performance allows a party to get exactly what they contracted for, and is generally allowed when this relief involves something distinctly unique.
Specific performance is usually allowed for real estate contract cases. The rationale is that a particular property cannot be “replaced” by another, and a damaged party is entitled to the exact real estate they contracted for. For real estate contract disputes, this is often the preferred outcome by parties in these cases.
If you find yourself involved in such a matter, contact me for a consultation.