A real estate contract dispute after the sale of a house

At Levy Goldenberg LLP, we help clients throughout the New York City area resolve real estate contract disputes. While purchase and sales agreements should protect the interests of parties to a real estate transaction, disagreements are common. We work to resolve disputes ranging from breach of contract to property defects through mediation, arbitration, and litigation

When you meet with us, we will take the time to understand the nature of the dispute and explore all your options. Real estate contract disputes can often be resolved through negotiations, and these agreements typically include mandatory arbitration provisions. When litigation becomes necessary, our trial-ready lawyers have an impressive track record of success. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. 

What Are the Terms and Conditions of a Real Estate Purchase Contract?

A real estate purchase agreement is a contract for the purchase and sale of real property that governs the terms of the sale and spells out the rights and obligations of each party to the transaction. Basic terms and conditions of a real estate contract include:

  • A legal description of the property
  • The purchase price of the property
  • The closing date
  • Terms related to the mortgage, escrow, or other real estate matters related to the sale
  • Any items included in the sale, such as fixtures and appliances
  • Any items not included in the sale
  • The condition of the property
  • Results of any inspections or appraisals performed in connection with the sale
  • Legal issues regarding the tile, such as encumbrances and easements
  • Exchange of the deed

A well-conceived real estate contract will mitigate the risk of disputes; however, any party can breach the agreement if they fail to follow its terms or conditions.

What Is a Real Estate Purchase Contract Dispute?

The following real estate contract disputes in New York City typically arise after the agreement is signed but before the transaction has closed. 

Breach of Contract

Real estate contracts are not like other contracts because each property is considered unique; however, like all contracts, real estate agreements have three legal requirements:

  • An offer by the buyer
  • An acceptance by the seller
  • An exchange of consideration

A breach of a real estate contract can occur when either party violates the contract terms.

Buyer’s Breach

Common breaches that buyers can commit include:

  • Not having adequate funds to make a contract deposit
  • Failing to obtain adequate financing before the closing date
  • Failing to tender the balance of the purchase price (failing to close escrow)
  • Not honoring representations and warranties

Seller’s Breach

Common breaches that sellers can commit include: 

  • Failing to deliver the deed in the correct manner
  • Not remedying problems with the property before closing
  • Failing to transfer the property in a timely manner
  • Not curing title defects

If the buyer breaches the real estate contract, the seller may be able to retain the earnest deposit and seek monetary damages for any other financial losses. If the seller breaches, the buyer can seek compensatory damages such as:

  • Return of the earnest deposit
  • The cost of a survey and title examination
  • The cost of a home inspection
  • Attorney fees

The court may also award specific performance and order the seller to complete the transaction. Depending on the circumstances, the parties may agree to cancel the contract and return the earnest deposit to the buyer. 

Failure to Disclose Property Defects

Sellers who know about defects in their properties but fail to disclose them to buyers may be liable. To have a valid claim, the buyer must prove that the seller knew or reasonably should have known about the defect and intentionally concealed it.  

Disputes Over Closing Costs

Closing cost disputes involving the negotiated price of the real estate property may arise from:

  • Loan fraud
  • Discrepancies in good faith estimates
  • Misrepresentation of the contract terms
  • Seller concessions

Whether the dispute is between the buyer and seller or between the parties and the lender, it takes an experienced real estate litigation attorney to sort through all the details and find a workable solution.

Resolving Real Estate Contract Disputes

Generally, the parties to a real estate purchase agreement must resolve a dispute in a manner outlined in the contract, for example, mediation or arbitration: 

  • Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties work with a neutral third party, called a mediator, to reach a mutual agreement. The parties must negotiate in good faith for mediation to be successful. 
  • Arbitration is a voluntary or involuntary process (if the contract includes a mandatory arbitration provision) in which the parties present their case to an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators). The arbitrator hears evidence and renders a final decision, known as an arbitration award, that may be binding or nonbinding. 

If mediation or arbitration is not successful, litigation may be inevitable, which makes having proper legal representation essential. 

How Do You Settle a Contract Dispute?

Settling a real estate contract dispute in NYC typically involves negotiation, mediation, or litigation. Negotiation is informal, where parties directly attempt to reach an agreement. Mediation involves a neutral third party facilitating communication and compromise. Litigation, however, is a formal court proceeding to resolve the dispute, potentially leading to a judge’s ruling. Choosing the best approach depends on factors like the severity of the disagreement and the parties’ willingness to compromise.

Contact Our Experienced Real Estate Contract Dispute Attorney

If you are involved in a real estate contract dispute in Manhattan or the other four boroughs, Levy Goldenberg LLP can help. We have an impressive track record of resolving disputes through negotiation and litigation and will work to protect your rights and interests. Contact us today to get started. 

Levy Goldenberg LLP handles a wide variety of real estate contract disputes throughout New York, including Manhattan, Kings, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties.