The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the seller was entitled to summary judgment dismissing the action for specific performance of the real estate purchase contract, because the contract did not meet the requirements of the statute of frauds:
Under the statute of frauds, a contract for the sale of real property must be evidenced by a writing (see General Obligations Law § 5-703). The writing must “identify the parties, describe the subject matter, be signed by the party to be charged, and state all of the essential terms of an agreement” … . “In a real estate transaction, the essential terms of a contract typically include the purchase price, the time and terms of payment, the required financing, the closing date, the quality of title to be conveyed, the risk of loss during the sale period, and adjustments for taxes and utilities” … . “‘[T]he writing must set forth the entire contract with reasonable certainty so that the substance thereof appears from the writing alone . . . If the contract is incomplete and it is necessary to resort to parol evidence to ascertain what was agreed to, the remedy of specific performance is not available'” … . …
In addition to the document not specifying the closing date, the evidence established that the parties never agreed with respect to the mortgage terms. At his deposition, the plaintiff testified that he was purchasing the property “subject” to the existing mortgage and that he had the “option” of obtaining a purchase money mortgage. The document, however, did not state whether the plaintiff was purchasing the property subject to the existing mortgage, obtaining a purchase money mortgage, or obtaining his own mortgage. The failure to include such terms makes the purported real estate contract unenforceable … . Cohen v Holder, 2022 NY Slip Op 02778, Second Dept 4-27-22
Practice Point: A real estate purchase contract which does not include all the material terms is not enforceable pursuant to the Statute of Frauds. Here the contract did not include the closing date or the mortgage terms. It was deemed unenforceable and the action for specific performance was dismissed.