Denver is currently experiencing a historically hot real estate market. Demand is enormously high, but the current supply incredibly low, resulting in an extreme seller’s market. Due to these market dynamics, the potential for litigation has increased over the right to buy a specific property or the right to sell property to a particular buyer at a specific price.
This is especially true for residential property sales. Unlike commercial property sales, where buyers and sellers are rational actors motivated by investor expectations, business goals, or other market-driven concerns, buying or selling residential property is a more emotional process. Each buyer is looking for something that speaks to them and may be willing to pay above asking for their ideal home. Dreams and hopes are pinned on home ownership, and buyers will be drawn to properties based on factors that are unique to their life circumstances, like commute, schools, proximity to family, amenities, green space, etc. Sellers, for their part, may want to sell their property at a specific time, or to a particular buyer based on their life circumstances.
Missing out on the opportunity to buy or sell a unique property at the perfect time is an injury that is not easily compensated. Although parties can sue for money damages, a money judgment may not remedy the harm done. And once the contested transaction closes and the sale is consummated, unwinding the transaction is a time-consuming, risky, and expensive undertaking.
Instead of seeking monetary damages, a person or entity at risk of losing out on the opportunity to buy or sell a property may temporarily halt the disputed transaction by seeking a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction is a court order, made at the request of a party, which prohibits a party (or parties) from taking certain actions until the dispute can be resolved on its merits.
A court may issue a preliminary injunction if the facts show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result from the contested sale. A party seeking a preliminary injunction must demonstrate that (1) the party has a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) there is a danger of real, immediate, and irreparable injury which may be prevented by injunctive relief; (3) there is a lack of plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law, (4) there will not be a disservice to the public interest; (5) the balance of equities favors the injunction; and (6) that the status quo will be preserved by the injunction pending a trial on the merits. Colo. R. Civ. P. 65; Fed. R. Civ. P. 65; Rathke v. MacFarlane, 648 P.2d 648, 653-54 (Colo. 1982).
A critical part of the preliminary injunction analysis is whether the party seeking the injunction will suffer “real, immediate, and irreparable injury” if the challenged transaction is allowed to proceed. In cases involving residential property, courts have long recognized that each property is unique, and sellers and buyers are driven by emotion; therefore, money damages would not necessarily offer appropriate relief and loss of a specific property would constitute an irreparable injury. Because of this, preliminary injunction can be a powerful tool in disputing problematic residential real estate transactions.
Ireland Stapleton’s litigation practice group has expertise in real estate disputes and has successfully helped clients obtain injunctive relief to halt contested real estate transactions and allow for real property to be purchased or sold at an optimum price to the right buyer. If you have questions about your residential real estate transaction, contact our knowledgeable team.
Lidiana Rios is a commercial litigator at Ireland Stapleton. She represents small, mid-size, and large public and private companies, as well as individuals, in state and federal trials, appeals, mediations, and arbitrations. Ms. Rios handles a wide range of complex commercial litigation matters, including corporate governance and contract disputes, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, business fraud, and fraudulent transfers. She can be reached at (303) 628-3607 or email@example.com.
What is written here is for general information only and should not be taken as legal advice. If legal advice is needed, please consult an attorney.