NY Court of Appeals puts burden on buyers when seeking damages for contract repudiation

Feb.February 14, 2012 01:00 PM

New York’s Highest Court ruled last week that real estate buyers must prove they were “ready, willing and able” to close a deal in order to procure damages should a seller renege on a contract, Reuters reported.

In Mario Pesa versus Yoma Development Group, the Court of Appeals found that Yoma did not act unlawfully when it sold a contract for Queens development parcels to a third party. The plaintiffs had entered into contract to buy three plots where they planned multi-family structures. They argued that Yoma refused to move forward with the sale because the value of the property had increased nearly 50 percent since they made down payments.

But Yoma argued that the buyers had not secured a mortgage to finance their purchase and thus was forced to look elsewhere. Clarifying a division among lower courts on the issue, the Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs were not “ready, willing and able” to close the deal, thereby validating the contract sale to a third party.

The judge did not set forth criteria for determining what exactly meets that standard going forward. He said it was supported by “common sense,” and put the burden of proof on buyers, who can more easily produce evidence of their intentions. [Reuters]

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