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September 22, 1994


JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, William L. Daniels, brought an action in the circuit court of Cook County against several defendants, including James Anderson, the estate of Stephen Jacula, and Nicholas Zografos. Daniels sought, inter alia, the specific performance of a real estate sales contract. Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Daniels. The appellate court affirmed. (252 Ill. App. 3d 289.) We allowed Zografos' petition for leave to appeal (134 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)), and now affirm the appellate court, with a minor modification.


The appellate court detailed the facts of this case. We repeat only those facts that are necessary for our Disposition of the issues presented in this appeal.

The Properties

In March 1977, Anderson and Jacula owned a 10-acre tract of real estate in what is now Burr Ridge. The property is divided into four lots. (See appendix.) Two of the four lots (the Daniels Property) are situated side-by-side, east and west, and face the south side of 79th Street at 11445 79th Street. Each lot is an acre. A single-family home was moved onto the western lot around 1950.

The third lot (the Contiguous Parcel) lies directly south of the Daniels Property. In other words, the south boundary of the Daniels Property is also the north boundary of the Contiguous Parcel. The Contiguous Parcel consists of approximately two acres and is vacant and landlocked.

The fourth lot (the Second Parcel) consists of approximately six acres of vacant land, most of which lies directly south of the Contiguous Parcel. A portion of the Second Parcel extends northward in a 60-foot-wide strip directly west and adjacent to the Contiguous Parcel and the Daniels Property until the strip reaches 79th Street. The strip provides the body of the Second Parcel, with the Contiguous Parcel and the Daniels Property, access to 79th Street.

A gravel driveway lies on a small section of the Second Parcel's strip. The 11-foot-wide driveway begins on the strip at 79th Street and runs southeast on the strip for approximately 60 feet and then enters the Daniels Property. The driveway has always served as the ingress to and egress from the single-family home on the Daniels Property.

The Transactions

In March 1977, Daniels contracted with Anderson and Jacula to buy the Daniels Property. The written contract consisted of a preprinted form and a rider, which provided in pertinent part:

"Seller shall file a new subdivision which will establish the subject premises as a separate parcel. Such newsubdivision plat shall also provide a 66 foot strip [subsequently changed to a 60-foot-wide strip] connecting the South 5 acres of said East 10 acres with 79th Street for sole purposes of ingress and egress. Seller shall grant Purchaser [Daniels] a non-exclusive easement, to run with the land for ingress and egress over that portion of such [60] foot strip contiguous to this parcel."

The rider also provided:

"Right to Purchase Additional Land. Seller agrees that he shall grant Purchaser the first right to purchase (on the same terms and conditions, and for the same price, as any bona-fide offer in writing made to Seller) a tract of land approximately two acres in area [the Contiguous Parcel], being that piece adjacent to [the Daniels Property] * * *. Said right shall be personal to Purchaser, shall not run with the land and shall terminate upon any transfer of title by Purchaser other than a transfer resulting in ownership by Purchaser and his then spouse as joint tenants."

Daniels and his wife moved into the single-family home on the Daniels Property when they entered into the 1977 sales contract. In March 1979, the Daniels Property closed and the Danielses received a deed. This deed did not mention Daniels' easement or his right of first refusal of the Contiguous Parcel. Daniels did not record the 1977 sales contract at this time.

In June 1979, Jacula and his wife acquired sole ownership of the Contiguous Parcel and Anderson and his wife acquired sole ownership of the Second Parcel. Under a May 1985 easement agreement, the Jaculas acquired an easement in favor of the otherwise landlocked Contiguous Parcel for access to 79th Street. The easement covered the entire 60-foot-wide strip of the Second Parcel. The 1985 easement also gave the Jaculas the right to build a 20-foot-wide road on the strip.

In September 1985, Zografos contracted with the Jaculas to buy the Contiguous Parcel for $60,000. Daniels never received an offer to buy the Contiguous Parcel. Since Daniels had not recorded the 1977 contractby this time, a title search for this sale to Zografos reflected that Daniels did not have any interest in the Contiguous Parcel. Pursuant to the 1985 contract, Zografos paid the Jaculas $10,000 initially and delivered to them a judgment note on the balance. On February 18, 1986, Zografos paid $15,000 and, on March 22, he paid another $15,000. At the closing on August 22, Zografos paid the remaining $20,000. Shortly after that date, Zografos recorded a warranty deed to the Contiguous Parcel. Zografos also received from the Jaculas their rights under the 1985 easement agreement.

In October 1986, Zografos contracted with the Andersons to buy the Second Parcel. A title search for this sale reflected that Daniels did not have any interest in or easement over the Second Parcel. The sale of the Second Parcel closed on December 19, 1986. Daniels recorded the 1977 sales contract 11 days prior to this closing.

In December 1986, Anderson told Daniels that he could no longer use the gravel driveway that lies partly on the Second Parcel's 60-foot-wide strip. We note that the trial court subsequently entered an ...

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