Another litigation issue of particular importance to real estate cases are actions for specific performance. In contract disputes, ordinarily the aggrieved party will sue for breach of contract, and will seek money damages. In some cases, however, the aggrieved party will sue, because the other party refuses to complete a contract, and the aggrieved party will seek a court order compelling the other party to complete the contract. This is called specific performance. The rules relating to this remedy are set forth in California Civil Code Sections 3384 to 3395.

There are a number of rules relating to whether specific performance may be obtained. One of the most important ones is that it must be a matter in which money damages are not adequate compensation. This rules make specific performance impossible to obtain in the average contract dispute, in which money damages are the crux of the dispute. In real estate purchase contracts, however, there is a long-standing legal presumption that every piece of real property is unique and that consequently money damages are not adequate compensation in breach of contract cases for purchase of real property. In short, the courts have a built-in bias in favor of granting specific performance, in cases in which a seller of real property refuses to go through with a sale contract.

For a buyer to sue for specific performance, however, he or she must be able to prove that he or she fully carried out his or her side of the bargain, or was prevented from doing so by the seller.