By Rob Hofmann
On May 28, 2008, the Third Appellate District for the Court of Appeal hammered home that technical form over substance rules in real property purchase transactions, irrespective of the parties’ original intent. At issue was a run of the mill purchase and sale transaction, overseen by attorneys on both sides, which granted the buyer a due diligence period to inspect the property and the ability to cancel the transaction if the buyer concluded the property ultimately did not meet its specifications. In this instance, however, the seller chose to cancel the deal during the due diligence period despite the jilted buyer having already spent some $60,000 obtaining a parcel split and related entitlements. The court not only rejected the buyer’s request to enforce the contract but also required the out-of-luck buyer to pay the seller’s $80,000-plus in attorneys’ fees incurred in defense of the buyer’s challenge of the deal cancelation. Steiner v. Thexton (2008) 163 Cal. App.4th 359.