The Arizona Supreme Court stated the requirements that must be satisfied to support an award of specific performance in Shreeve v. Greer, 173 P.2d 641, 65 Ariz. 35 (1946). The remedy will be available when a claimant can establish :
1. A valid binding contract,
2. Definite and certain terms,
3. Mutuality of obligation and remedy,
4. Freedom from fraud and overreaching,
5. Lack of remedy at law.
When all of these elements are present, a court may grant an award of specific performance.
In Shreeve, the seller contracted with the buyer to sell a parcel of real property, but changed her mind after accepting a deposit and giving the buyer a receipt. The buyer brought an action for specific performance of the contract, which was granted by the trial court.
On appeal, the Supreme Court analyzed several arguments from the seller relating to the award of specific performance. First, the court noted that while an action at law would generally require the buyer to actually deliver the agreed upon payment before filing an action, an equity action did not require such a tender. It was sufficient that the buyer was ready, willing, and able to tender payment.
In this case, the buyer did not have to actually tender the money because he had already been informed by the seller that she had changed her mind and would not convey the property. The actual payment would have been pointless based on the representations from the seller that she no longer wanted to sell property.
In this case, there was no undue hardship that would be caused by the award of specific performance. The seller did not show that any injustice would occur due to a decree of specific performance, so the award should be granted.
When a contract for the sale of real property is breached, specific performance is often the only remedy that will adequately compensate the buyer. The unique nature of each parcel of real property usually makes monetary damages insufficient, so a court will consider an award of specific performance if the above elements are present, and if the award will not result in undue hardship.
Chernoff Law handles business and real estate litigation matters, including disagreements arising out of the purchase or sale of real estate in Arizona. Contact us to discuss your case with an experienced real estate attorney.