What is lis pendens in real estate, and how does it work?

Key Takeaways:

Understanding lis pendens in real estate is crucial for all parties involved in property transactions. This legal notice signifies ongoing property ownership disputes, impacting the sale process and potentially leading to litigation. Buyers should be prepared to address legal issues related to their desired property, as lis pendens is a formal notification of potential involvement in litigation. Resolving lis pendens greatly impacts property sales and foreclosures. This highlights the importance of taking timely legal action and making informed decisions. It can arise in various scenarios, including divorce cases, mortgage defaults, and contract disputes, underscoring the need for legal advice and vigilance when navigating these complexities in real estate transactions.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is lis pendens in real estate and how does it work?” Why should finance and real estate experts learn about this official notice and its meaning?

Whether you’re new to real estate or have some experience, it’s important to understand certain terms in this industry. 

These terms include property title, real estate lawsuit, and constructive notice. But before we get into all those terms, let’s start at the beginning and see what a lis pendens is in detail, shall we?

Get to know what lis pendens represent

A lis pendens is a notice about a legal action for property ownership in an area. Buyers must be ready to handle any ongoing legal disputes related to the property they want to buy. This means they are aware that they may become involved in litigation. It is a formal notification. 

Buyers must be ready to handle any legal issues regarding the property they want to purchase. This means they are aware that they may become involved in litigation.

Transfer of Ownership and Legal Responsibilities

Lis Pendens warns homebuyers that a property is involved in foreclosure or a legal problem. The property sale does not shield the plaintiff from pursuing a resolution through legal proceedings.

The new owner must take control and know their involvement to fulfil their legal obligation.

How does Lis Pendens function in property sales?

The term’ Lis pendens’ is important in property sales, especially foreclosure cases. It means ‘suit pending’ in Latin. 

Legal issues can significantly impact the price of a property or its likelihood of being sold. 

Ongoing lawsuits can create doubt about the owner’s situation, further complicating the sale process. People often abbreviate it as ‘lis pend.’

Navigating Lis Pendens in Property Transactions

Lis pendens is a warning to homebuyers about a property involved in foreclosure or a legal dispute affecting ownership. It underscores their need to exercise jurisdiction and control over the matter.

Filing it is important because it protects your property ownership until the lawsuit is over. This action emphasizes the need for control and authority to protect your ownership interests.

The Resolution of Lis Pendens and its Impact on Property Sales

The removal of the lis pendens occurs when the lawsuit is resolved, significantly benefiting property sales and foreclosure proceedings.

Be cautious when buying foreclosed properties with ongoing legal disputes.

Lis Pendens in Various Situations: What You Should Know

Here is what you need to know about it in various situations in this case:


Lis pendens is often used in divorce cases when property division is unsettled. It often happens when one spouse owns the property, and the other has a stake. 

The spouse named on the title may encounter difficulty selling the property during the ongoing legal dispute. Seeking legal advice in such cases can be crucial for a fair resolution.

Mortgage Default/Foreclosure

Lis pendens is almost always employed by mortgage lenders when a borrower faces difficulties making mortgage payments. This notice is important for the foreclosure process. It warns the public and real estate agents about the possibility of the property being foreclosed.

In the US, mortgage lenders must send a default notice to borrowers behind on payments. Borrowers have about 30 days to fix the issue and prevent foreclosure. 

Lis pendens can be used in real estate contract disputes. It is used when a buyer believes they have a valid claim to a property.

Contract Disputes

Lis pendens can be used in real estate contract disputes. It is used when a buyer believes they have a valid claim to a property. 

Buyer A and the seller have a contract to sell a home. However, the seller sells it to buyer B instead. In this case, buyer A has the right to sue to enforce the sale. 

Filing a lis pendens after initiating the lawsuit can complicate the seller’s ability to sell the property. 

Enforcing Contracts: Buyer A’s Rights and Legal Notices

In a scenario where Buyer A and the seller have a binding contract for a home sale, but the seller decides to sell it to Buyer B instead, Buyer A possesses the legal right to initiate a lawsuit to enforce the sale. 

This action serves as a legal notice, indicating the dispute over property ownership. Resolving disputes can affect credit scores and financial stability for everyone involved. 

Therefore, seeking legal advice becomes crucial to navigate this complex terrain effectively.

Understanding the Discharge of Lis Pendens

When you receive a lis pendens discharge, your property is no longer under a lawsuit or claim.

Issuing Lis Pendens

Anyone who truly thinks they’ve got a property claim is able to file a lis pendens with the Clerk of Court in their county. However, a pending lawsuit must exist for the lis pendens to be valid.

Lis in Law

In legal terms, “lis” translates to “suit” or “lawsuit” in Latin, while “pendens” means “pending.” So, “lis pendens” means a pending lawsuit or lawsuit pending.

Bottom Line: Lis Pendens in Real Estate

In real estate, lis pendens is a crucial legal notice indicating ongoing property ownership disputes. For all those seeking a valid financial information about this legal process should know that:  

Buyers should be prepared for potential litigation when encountering lis pendens. The resolution of lis pendens significantly impacts property sales and foreclosure proceedings.

It can arise in various scenarios, highlighting the need for legal guidance in complex real estate transactions.

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