Lis Pendens

The New Western Team


Lis Pendens, in real estate investing, refers to a legal notice filed by a party to inform potential buyers or lenders of a pending lawsuit affecting the property’s title. This notice serves as a warning sign, allowing investors to exercise caution and conduct thorough due diligence before proceeding with any transactions.


Lis Pendens: Practical Example

Imagine that John, an experienced real estate investor, is considering purchasing a property in a desirable neighborhood. Before proceeding with the purchase, he conducts thorough research to ensure there are no legal issues associated with the property. During his investigation, he comes across a term called “lis pendens.”

John discovers that “lis pendens” is a Latin term that translates to “lawsuit pending.” In the context of real estate, it refers to a legal notice filed by a party claiming an interest in the property, indicating that a lawsuit is in progress that may affect the property’s ownership or title.

Curious to understand how this term could impact his potential investment, John delves deeper into the situation. He learns that a lis pendens is typically filed when there is a dispute over the property, such as an unpaid mortgage, a boundary dispute, or a foreclosure proceeding. This notice serves as a public record, alerting potential buyers and lenders of the ongoing legal issue.

To gain a clearer understanding, John visits the county clerk’s office to access the property’s public records. There, he discovers that a lis pendens has indeed been filed against the property he is interested in. The notice indicates that the current owner is involved in a legal dispute with a contractor over unpaid renovation work.

Realizing the potential risks involved, John decides to proceed cautiously. He consults with his real estate attorney to evaluate the implications of the lis pendens on the property’s marketability and his ability to obtain title insurance. His attorney advises him that purchasing a property with a lis pendens may result in complications, as the outcome of the lawsuit could affect the property’s ownership rights.

Considering the uncertain nature of the pending lawsuit, John decides to put his investment plans on hold until the lis pendens is resolved. He understands that if he were to proceed with the purchase, he might inherit the legal issues associated with the property, potentially leading to financial losses and legal complications.

John’s experience with encountering a lis pendens serves as a valuable lesson for aspiring real estate investors. It highlights the importance of conducting thorough due diligence before investing in any property. By researching public records and seeking professional advice, investors can identify and mitigate potential risks, ensuring a more secure and successful investment journey.

Remember, as a real estate investor, it is crucial to stay informed about legal terms like lis pendens to make informed decisions and protect your investments.


FAQs about Lis Pendens:

1. What is a Lis Pendens?
A Lis Pendens, which is Latin for “suit pending,” is a legal document filed in the public records by a party involved in a real estate dispute. It serves as a notice to potential buyers or lenders that there is a pending lawsuit affecting the property.

2. What is the purpose of filing a Lis Pendens?
The purpose of filing a Lis Pendens is to alert interested parties, such as real estate investors or lenders, that there is a legal claim or dispute over the property. It helps protect the rights of the party filing the lawsuit and ensures that any subsequent transactions involving the property are subject to the outcome of the pending litigation.

3. Who can file a Lis Pendens?
Typically, a Lis Pendens can be filed by any party involved in a real estate dispute, such as a homeowner, a lender, or a contractor. However, the specific requirements and procedures for filing may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

4. What types of real estate disputes can lead to a Lis Pendens filing?
A Lis Pendens can be filed in various real estate disputes, including foreclosure proceedings, boundary disputes, title claims, contract disputes, or disputes over ownership rights. It is important to consult with a legal professional to determine if filing a Lis Pendens is appropriate for your specific situation.

5. How does a Lis Pendens affect real estate transactions?
Once a Lis Pendens is filed, it becomes a public record and can affect the marketability of the property. Potential buyers or lenders may be hesitant to proceed with a transaction involving a property with a Lis Pendens, as it indicates potential legal risks or complications. It is common for title companies to refuse to issue title insurance until the lawsuit is resolved.

6. Can a Lis Pendens be removed?
Yes, a Lis Pendens can be removed under certain circumstances. If the underlying lawsuit is resolved or withdrawn, the party who filed the Lis Pendens can request its removal from the public records. Additionally, if the court determines that the Lis Pendens was wrongfully filed or lacks merit, it may order its removal.

7. How can real estate investors protect themselves from Lis Pendens?
Real estate investors can protect themselves from potential issues related to Lis Pendens by conducting thorough due diligence before purchasing a property. This includes obtaining a title search or title insurance to uncover any existing claims or disputes. Working with experienced real estate professionals, such as attorneys or real estate agents, can also help investors navigate potential legal pitfalls.