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What is Specific Performance and How Does it Affect Arizona Real Estate Contracts?

The Arizona real estate market is complex, and sometimes these complexities can potentially lead to litigation as a result. In scenarios where one party fails to uphold their end of a real estate contract, you might find yourself grappling with the term “specific performance”. But what is specific performance, and how does it affect real estate contracts in Arizona? 

Understanding Specific Performance

Specific performance is designed to be a legal remedy as a result of a situation where a court action and order finds that one party was in breach of contract and did not perform the duties they had agreed to in said contract. In most cases, remedies like specific performance are sought when the breach of contract results in a substantial loss to the opposing (or non breaching) party. In essence, specific performance requires the parties to continue with the contract as if the breach had not occurred.

Specific Performance in Arizona Real Estate Contracts

In Arizona, as in most states, specific performance aims to compel the breaching party to perform their obligations as specified in the contract, rather than awarding monetary damages. It’s worth noting A.R.S. §12-546 states there is a four-year window in which to commence an action for specific performance. However, aggrieved parties may wish to pursue this type of claim, as it is possible that an Arizona court might force the breaching party to perform on his or her contractual obligations.

Specific performance is not automatically granted in every breach of contract case. The court exercises its discretion in deciding whether to enforce specific performance. In most cases, specific performance will take into account things like the property, its uniqueness, whether or not it’s feasible to enforce the measure, and any possible defenses.

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The Role of Courts in Specific Performance Cases

Certain conditions must be met for specific performance to be considered by the court. To begin with, the party that brings the civil action must first demonstrate that the contract is indeed valid and that they’ve met any obligations to it on their part. Further, they must also show that the other party has failed to honor their obligations, effectively breaching the contract. What’s more, they must also show specific performance is an appropriate and feasible remedy in the given circumstances.

Knowing courts exercise discretion when it comes to ordering specific performance, the unique nature of each case requires careful consideration of the circumstances. The court will weigh the equities of the situation and assess whether enforcing specific performance is fair and just in the given scenario.

When Specific Performance May Not Be Granted

While specific performance is a powerful remedy, it’s not without its challenges and limitations. For instance, if the breaching party no longer owns the property or if the performance is practically impossible, the court may deny the request for specific performance. Additionally, the court may consider the practicality of enforcing the remedy, especially if it would create an undue burden on the breaching party.

Specific performance may also be denied in cases where the breaching party can successfully raise legal defenses, such as the contract being unconscionable, the injured party having unclean hands, or the contract being based on mutual mistake. Furthermore, if the court determines that the remedy would be inequitable or impractical, it may refuse to enforce specific performance.

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Consultation with Experienced Real Estate Attorneys

It is important to note that specific performance cases can be complex and may involve legal challenges. Consulting with a qualified real estate attorney in Arizona is crucial for parties seeking specific performance or defending against a specific performance claim. Laws can evolve, and court interpretations may vary, so it’s always advisable to consult with legal professionals who have up-to-date knowledge of Arizona’s specific performance laws and regulations.

An experienced Arizona real estate attorney can provide invaluable guidance on understanding and navigating the complexities of specific performance in real estate contracts. After reviewing the facts regarding your case, they can offer you advice on what your best course of action moving forward might be. 


Specific performance is a significant legal remedy in the context of Arizona real estate contracts. It provides an avenue for aggrieved parties to seek the fulfillment of contractual obligations when monetary damages alone are insufficient. However, the application of specific performance is subject to several considerations, and its enforcement is at the discretion of the court. It is therefore crucial to seek professional legal advice when dealing with matters related to specific performance in Arizona real estate contracts.

With this comprehensive guide, you now have a better understanding of specific performance and how it impacts real estate contracts in Arizona. Remember, each case is unique, and this article only provides a general overview. Always consult with qualified legal counsel for any real estate legal matters.

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