The O’Rourkes and three other families (plaintiffs) purchased properties constructed by Howard Horton (defendant). When the homes were completed, plaintiffs took possession under leases pending removal of all title encumbrances. Horton assured plaintiffs that a federal tax lien encumbering the properties would be removed. On that assurance, plaintiffs improved the properties and continued renting them for 22 months. Despite his efforts, Horton was unable to clear title. He offered to continue renting the properties to plaintiffs or to return their earnest money deposits. Plaintiffs sued for specific performance and damages. After a nonjury trial, the court denied specific enforcement but awarded plaintiffs benefit-of-the-bargain damages equal to the difference between the properties’ market value and the unpaid contract price. Horton appealed.