The Third Department, affirming the grant of summary judgment to plaintiff seller, over a partial dissent, determined the standard real estate purchase and sale contract incorporates the standard practice of using the sale proceeds to pay off any mortgages on the property, even though those liens are not removed until after the closing. The defendant argued the plaintiff’s failure to turn over the property free of the mortgages at the time of the closing was a breach of the explicit terms of the contract. The dissent agreed. The decision includes a detailed and comprehensive discussion of the standard purchase and sale agreement and the standard closing practice:
Defendant argues that plaintiff did not have a marketable title at closing, as she could only provide a marketable title, as required under the contract, by providing a satisfaction of each mortgage lien at closing. However, this position would necessarily have required plaintiff to pay off each mortgage in advance and secure each satisfaction, and, in our view, is inconsistent with both the contract and the conduct of the parties.
It is significant that the parties used a “Standard Form Contract for Purchase and Sale of Real Estate” produced by the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service, Inc. … . Use of this standard form reflects the parties’ intent to embrace the common practice developed over the years in the real estate closing realm … . This common practice with respect to the existing mortgage liens is as follows — the seller obtains payoff letters from respective lenders, the purchaser brings corresponding bank checks to the closing payable to each lender, and either the title insurance agent or the seller’s counsel processes those payments to secure the required mortgage satisfaction … . Within 30 days of receipt of payment, the lenders are statutorily mandated to have a mortgage satisfaction “presented for recording to the recording officer of the county where the mortgage is recorded” (RPAPL 1921  [a]). This protocol is consistent with the reality that the pertinent closing documents — the deed and the mortgage satisfactions — are recorded after the closing (see Real Property Law § 291). * * *
The concluding point is that defendant had documented assurance that the marketable title was being provided. Under these circumstances, we find that plaintiff duly performed under the contract. Defendant’s refusal to complete the transaction constituted a breach of contract. As such, Supreme Court properly granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. Prendergast v Swiencicky, 2020 NY Slip Op 02686, Third Dept 5-7-20