What is Specific Performace?

What is Specific Performance in Real Estate?

Updated on December 18, 2023

In this post we discuss what a specific performance in real estate is, the elements required to qualify, and we reference a real case example that illustrates how this legal process may be utilized.

What Is Specific Performance in the Real Estate Context?

Specific performance is a legal remedy. It is often used in suits that concern real property based on the uniqueness of real property. It is used to require an adverse party to fulfill their specific contractual obligations. With respect to real estate, this means that a court can order a seller to sell a particular piece of real property to a buyer, or a buyer to buy a property from a seller.  Most often, we see this in the context of a buyer trying to enforce a purchase and sale contract against who a seller who has attempted to cancel a deal.

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Specific Performance of a Contract – When Does It Apply?

Does Your Case Qualify?

Specific performance is not available in every case. Courts will only grant it if certain elements are met that can include:

  • The contract must be valid and enforceable.
  • The property must be unique.
  • The damages that the aggrieved party would suffer if specific performance were not granted would be difficult to calculate.
  • The aggrieved party must be ready, willing, and able to perform under the contract.

If all of these conditions are met, the court may order specific performance meaning the breaching party will be required to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Case Example Granting Specific Performance

For example, in Real Estate Analytics, LLC v. Vallas (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 463 (2008), the plaintiff, Real Estate Analytics, LLC (“Buyer”), entered into a contract to purchase 14.13 acres of land from the defendant, Theodore Tee Vallas (“Seller”). The contract price was $1,000,000.

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A few days prior to closing, Seller cancelled the contract. Buyer filed a breach of contract action against Seller, demanding specific performance.

The trial court found that Seller breached the contract but denied specific performance relief. The court found that Buyer’s purpose in purchasing the property was to earn profits from developing and/or reselling the property. The court held that this purpose was speculative and that monetary damages would properly compensate buyer.

Buyer appealed the trial court’s decision. The appellate court reversed, granting specific performance. The court held that the law generally presumes real property is unique and that breach of an agreement to purchase property cannot be adequately remedied by monetary compensation. The court found that Buyer had met its burden of showing that it would be irreparably harmed if specific performance were not granted.

Real Estate Analytics illustrates the importance of specific performance in the real estate context. Where a party is involved in a real estate transaction and there is a breach of the contract, the court may require specific performance.

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If you are involved in a real estate transaction and the other party breaches the contract, it is important to contact an experienced attorney and ask about seeking specific performance disputes in Los Angeles. The real estate attorneys at Schorr Law have years of practice successfully litigating contractual disputes. To inquire about scheduling a consultation with one of our attorneys regarding your issue, please give us a call at (310) 954-1877. You can also text us at (310) 706-2265, or send us a message here.