Disputes between sellers and purchasers of real property
Whether you are selling or purchasing, and no matter how great a transactional lawyer you have, an awful lot of things can go wrong in property deals in the Hamptons and on the East End. Why? A seller could change their mind and try to get a higher offer, despite a binding contract. Or a family member could come in and try to block the sale. On the other side, a purchaser might not have the money to close and try to stall the closing indefinitely. These are only a few of the many problems I have helped clients to resolve.
If your dream home seems to be slipping away, or the sale you thought was a done deal is not closing as expected, it is critical to get a litigator involved as soon as possible. This is a unique area of law where equitable remedies including notices of pendency* and specific performance* can be used effectively, and an experienced real-property litigator can guide you through this process and ensure the full enforcement of your contractual rights.
The seller and purchaser disputes I handle include:
- Breach of contract for the sale of real property
- Actions for return of down payment
- Actions for specific performance of contracts
- Disputes regarding brokerage commissions
* A Notice of Pendency (also called a lis pendens) is a document that a lawyer can file with the County Clerk to give notice of an action that could affect the title to, or possession, use or enjoyment of real property. A Notice of Pendency can often make it virtually impossible to sell or mortgage the property, making it an extraordinarily powerful preliminary remedy.
** When the court orders specific performance of a contract, it orders that the sale must close. Specific performance is often ordered in real-property cases, because the law recognizes that money damages cannot fully compensate for its loss.
Reported cases in this practice area:
Petrello v. White, 412 F. Supp. 2d 215 (E.D.N.Y. 2006), aff’d, 344 Fed. Appx. 651 (2d Cir. 2009) (drafted winning briefs in District Court and on appeal to Second Circuit obtaining specific performance for buyer of oceanfront property in Sagaponack).
Von Blomberg v. Garis¸ 44 A.D.3d 1033 (2d Dep’t 2007) (won summary judgment dismissing claim of fraud and reformation of deed to East Hampton property).
Eckel v. Francis, 5 A.D.3d 719 (2d Dep’t 2004) (won summary judgment on appeal on behalf of seller of property on Meadow Lane in Southampton Village, dismissing purchaser’s claim of specific performance)
Case study in this practice area:
“Time of the Essence” Contract Dispute Resolved
In 2014, I represented a purchaser of two lots in the Estate Section of East Hampton, where the contract was contingent upon the seller obtaining certain approvals from the Town prior to closing. The seller became frustrated at the time the approvals were taking, and issued a “time of the essence” letter demanding a closing even though the approvals had not been obtained.
Within a matter of days after being retained, I commenced an action to compel specific performance by the seller, and put a notice of pendency on the property. The matter settled quickly and favorably to my client.