06. Real Estate Law
Resolving Real Property Disputes in California
For most of us, real estate is the largest asset we will ever own. Protecting that asset and realizing the true value of the property is central to what we do on behalf of our clients. In real estate disputes, prompt, decisive action to protect the asset and the documents and facts that help establish our clients’ position is of critical importance. We quickly respond to email, cell phone, and text communications from clients. It is vitally important that a client is advised as to which legal option is best for their specific problem as well as a specific strategy to achieve a solution. There are various legal claims that may apply, including but not limited to:
A. PARTITION AND SALE (OR DIVISION) OF REAL ESTATE
Often individuals, couples, partnerships, heirs, and others become involved with purchasing or acquiring real property such as a single-family residence, apartments, or unimproved real property. In general, if you have a deed or other document which reflects that you may have some right to real property, that is enough to proceed with calling a lawyer. At times, even an oral agreement can serve as a basis to move forward with exploring an interest in real property. When two or more people or entities may own real estate, the Court is empowered to make determinations with respect to the percentages of ownership and the sale or other disposition of the real estate.
Attorney fees and costs of Partition and Sale can be awarded by the Court.
B. BREACH OF CONTRACT AND SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE
The law in California is clear:
It is to be presumed that the breach of an agreement to transfer real property cannot be adequately relieved by pecuniary compensation alone. In the case of a single-family dwelling where the party seeking performance intends to occupy the dwelling, this presumption is conclusive.
In all other cases, this presumption is a presumption affecting the burden of proof.
If a person or entity is involved in the purchase of real property and the Seller refuses to complete the transaction, the Buyer may move forward to force the sale to completion. A Buyer can be liable in certain circumstances for monetary damages for wrongful failure to complete a transaction.
It is critical in California that Parties move forward quickly to preserve their rights as soon as problems or issues appear in the transaction. Often Notices must be exchanged between Buyer and Seller in order to protect their respective rights and define duties.
The earlier you contact a lawyer the more likely it will be that you will be successful in litigating your dispute.
Generally speaking, documentation is critical in real estate matters. A client should attempt to gather all documents relating to the transaction in dispute, including, but not limited to all emails, notes, texts, memorandums, real estate agent generated documents, title company prepared documents, and photographs where appropriate.
When there is a dispute regarding ownership, sale or other actions affecting real property, our firm generally proceeds to file a Civil Lawsuit and record a Lis Pendens with respect to the property at Issue. A Lis Pendens creates a cloud on the title of the real property. This makes a legitimate sale of the property to a third party ineffective (during the course of the litigation) and so protects the interest of the person seeking an interest or benefit in the real property.
In most modern real estate contracts, there is a provision that allows the Court to order attorney fees and costs to the “prevailing party” in the litigation.
48 Years of Accumulated Practice
The Law Offices of Heather Gibson is dedicated to fighting on behalf of those who might not otherwise have a voice. We vigorously advocate for the rights of our clients against the seemingly insurmountable forces of insurance companies, utility providers, large scale business and the government with a proven record of success.