PAFSS handles real estate litigation throughout the boroughs of New York City, Nassau and Suffolk. When the real estate bubble was heating up, sellers tried to get out of deals because they thought the property was more valuable than the price that they agreed to sell it for. At this point the buyers would try to force the seller to complete the real estate contract. Many PAFSS clients have been successful in obtaining the bargained for real estate in these lawsuits.
“Specific performance” is the legal term for when a buyer forces the seller to go through with the contract of sale. The relief of specific performance is generally not available in most contract lawsuits. The reason it can be used in a real estate matter is because every piece of property is considered unique and therefore you can only be made whole by forcing the seller to go through with the deal they struck.
On the other hand, when the real estate bubble burst, buyers sought to back out of their real estate deals because they felt they were paying too much and wanted to receive their down payment back. PAFSS’s clients have been successful in keeping the down payments from those who chose to walk away from a deal. Some of these successes came during negotiations, some during the discovery stage, and some only after a judge ordered that the seller could retain the purchaser’s down payment because the purchaser chose to walk away from the deal.
However, in one unique case handled by PAFSS, the purchaser sought to walk away from a deal and keep her down payment. This case had some unusual facts in that after receiving a loan commitment from the lender, and shortly before the scheduled closing date, the purchaser lost her job due to a company wide lay off. The bank then revoked the loan commitment and purchaser asked to cancel the deal and have her down payment returned. The seller refused. The seller argued that this was a willful act on the part of the purchaser, however ultimately, the Court agreed with PAFSS. The Court was satisfied with the proof offered of the loss of employment which was due to facts outside of purchaser’s control and the fact that there was no evidence to support a lack of good faith or fair dealing by the purchaser. The down payment was ultimately returned to purchaser.
When handling these real estate cases experience counts; a thorough understanding of the specific language of the contract, riders and the applicable law are all important to the successful outcome of these cases. The advantage of having attorneys that practice real estate litigation as well as attorneys that handle real estate transactions who work together on these cases has proved invaluable to the firm’s real estate litigation clientele. Should you have a question on such a matter, call and ask for Lynn Sirotkin, Esq.