Almost all residential real estate contracts in Florida provide that either the buyer or seller (or, in some cases, both) is entitled to seek the remedy of specific performance.

What is specific performance?

Specific performance is an equitable remedy that forces the other party to perform under a contract, provided that party seeking performance (i.e., the plaintiff) is ready, willing and able to comply.

In most instances, the remedy of specific performance is brought by a buyer, who asks the court to order the seller to convey the property in exchange for the purchase price stated in a contract. The court’s judgment can serve as a valid transfer of the property, much like a deed.

Historically, and especially during the crazy real estate boom of the early 2000s, specific performance claims against buyers were rarely pursued. In fact, many sellers were happy to have a buyer back out, since it usually meant that the seller could sign a new contract with a new buyer at a higher price.

Impact of a declining real estate market on specific performance claims


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As a Florida real estate attorney, one topic that I am commonly asked about is homestead. One question frequently asked by clients is:

Is it possible for their spouse to waive his/her homestead rights? If so, how?”

Why Would a Spouse Waive Homestead Rights?

More often than not, one spouse has already provided for the other spouse through their estate planning documents, insurance policies, or payable on death accounts and would like to devise their homestead per their testamentary wishes.

The issue here arises from the fact that the Florida Constitution restricts either spouses’ ability to devise their homestead in their will. For example, if Spouse A wants to leave his homestead to his brother (instead of his spouse), he cannot leave his homestead to his brother in his will if he is survived by his spouse or minor child.

So what then happens when Spouse A has no minor children, and Spouse B wants to waive his/her rights in the homestead?

Florida Senate Bill 512


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For most people, buying a home is the most significant purchase of their lives. If you are purchasing property together with another person, then one issue to consider is how you and the other parties (as the buyers) want to take title to the property. How do you want to own the property? The manner in which a purchaser takes title to property can have significant consequences depending on the situation whether that be the death of one of the owners or the souring of a personal or business relationship.

Three Ways to Own Property

Generally, title agents will ask you how you want to take title or will provide a form for you to fill out indicating how you want to take title. If you are buying property by yourself, then the options are straight-forward because as the buyer, you are going to take title as either “a single man” or “a single woman” or “a married man” or “a married woman.” However, what happens when a buyer is purchasing property with someone else and what are the ways buyers can take title jointly? More often than not, buyers purchasing property jointly take title one of three ways: tenants-in-common (“TIC”), joint tenants with full rights of survivorship (“JTWROS”), or tenant by the entireties (“TBE”). Other options to consider may be forming a corporation, limited liability company, or trust to take title, but those options are not being covered by this post.

Tenants in Common


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Summer is a busy season for moving in Florida. This time of year is a popular time for families to move because it follows the spring real estate season and because school is out, parents won’t have to deal with enrolling their children in a new school mid-year. Landlords should ensure that they are aware of and in compliance with Florida law prior to renting.

Before signing a rental agreement or lease, landlords are encouraged to seek legal counsel to ensure that their lease complies with Florida law and that they are aware of the laws governing the landlord tenant relationship.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

In Florida, landlords are responsible for maintaining the dwelling. At all times during tenancy, the landlord shall (1) comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; (2) maintain the roofs; (3) doors; (4) floors; (5) steps; (6) porches; (7) exterior walls; (8) foundations; (9) and all other structural components in good repair. The landlord must also maintain the plumbing in reasonable working condition.


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Your neighbors are proud of their beautiful, large fruit trees, which are now growing substantially over your property. The trees have grown so large that a number of branches extend over your house, tool shed, and other improvements, which you believe results in a dangerous condition, not to mention rotten fruit dropping on your patio. What are your options: force the neighbor to remove the tree extending over your land, sue for damages, or something else? You may be surprised.

Is Your Neighbor Legally Responsible?

In Florida, a possessor of land is not liable to others outside his land for nuisance caused by vegetation growing from his land over adjoining properties. Scott v McCarty, 41 So. 3d 989 (Fla.4th DCA 2010). Therefore, your neighbor has no duty to remove or even trim the tree branches that encroach onto your property.


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florida-1624651_640Have you ever wondered whether renting out your property using VRBO qualifies as a commercial use as opposed to a residential use? You’re not alone.

On one hand, earning income from rent, advertising for new tenants, managing and scheduling those tenants, and maintaining the property to comply with the regulations required to frequently rent out your property for short periods certainly sounds like a business.

On the other hand, it’s your residence, and the people paying you to stay in it are only using it to eat, sleep, and do other ordinary acts incident to living. They aren’t using your place to produce income for themselves.

While both sides seem to have a reasonable argument, a recent Florida appellate court decided that renting a home to someone who uses the home “for ordinary living purposes such as sleeping and eating” qualified as a residential use under that particular association’s governing documents. See, Santa Monica Beach Property Owners Association v. Acord, (Fla. App., 2017).

What is the Legal Scoop?


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Mortgage contractI find myself frequently having conversations with potential clients asking why they shouldn’t use a title company to handle the closing of their new home. Why spend more money to hire an attorney when a title company can close the deal for less? Excellent question.

Sure, a title company can create the documents necessary to close the deal. They can also generally guide the parties on some issues that might come up, such as what additional requirements must be met when the seller is considered a “foreign person” under FIRPTA.


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hacker-1944688_1280 - CopyThe news these days is rife with stories about hacking, leaks, and stolen confidential information, and no one seems to be immune to the threat, as demonstrated by the recent reports of hackings perpetrated on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

While those examples may seem far from home for most of us, there are stories throughout the country of hackers stealing the money people are intending to use to purchase their homes.

The ploy hackers often use is to hack someone’s email, which allows them to intercept wire instructions. They then modify the wire instructions in transit so that the money is eventually wired to the hacker’s account.

So how do you minimize the chance of losing the money you saved to buy your dream house?


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Denny Grimes
Denny Grimes

As a Southwest Florida business professional, your business likely ebbs and flows with the local real estate market. When demand is freely flowing, business flourishes and you can concentrate your focus on accomplishing what is in front of you. However, when it ebbs, businesses often need to consider whether