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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  JA Mentor
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I am in a contract to purchase a home. The seller refuses to

Customer Question

I am in a contract to purchase a home. The seller refuses to sell the house to me or fix any items that were in the contract. What can I do. What are my remedies.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

There is a specific remedy that is frequently used in real estate cases called "specific performance." A judge can actually ORDER the owner to sell the house and comply with the contract. This remedy is used when a person cannot be made whole by monetary damages. All real estate is considered unique by law (even if it's in a development of similar properties). You will be considered to be irreparably harmed if the seller is allowed to avoid selling you the house.

The judge CAN also order the owner to make the repairs, but that's less likely, for two reasons: One, you won't be irreparably harmed if you pay someone else to do it and the seller pays for that. Two, if the seller does it, because he's already upset, he could do a shoddy job. The judge doesn't want to put you in a position to have to sue again later to get the work fixed. If you have estimates or ideas of what the work with cost, the inspection report, contracts, pictures, anything like that, you can ask that the seller be made to pay for those repairs - OR, you can have the judge order that you be allowed to deduct the costs from your sales price. The decision is up to you. It comes down largely to whether you're going to have to give the seller cash at the closing and you'd rather use that cash for repairs, plus the likelihood of being able to collect a judgment from the seller later (which can be time consuming and frustrating).

You also have the ability to file what is called a "lis pendens" with the county, which puts other potential buyers on notice that there's a dispute over this house and a lawsuit pending. Most people don't want to buy a lawsuit, so that's going to help ensure that the seller doesn't try to sell the property to someone else before you get your judgment. A local attorney can help with both drafting the Complaint and the lis pendens, or you can visit a law library to look at books with samples.

This site has a sample lis pendens, which may help:

http://divorcenewjersey.com/download/notice-of-lis-pendens-pdf/

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