What is a lawsuit pending or lis pendens in the context of real estate?
In real estate practice, a lis pendens is an official notice that litigation is pending with reference to real estate, for instance, concerning the title of the property. A notice of lis pendens alerts a potential buyer of property or a lender that litigation exists relating to the property. Lis pendens does not create a lien, but it operates as a cloud on the property title until the suit is determined. Also, a lis pendens notice does not stop or nullify a property transfer, it only makes a property transfer subject to the outcome of a lawsuit.
Lis pendens is a public notice of pending lawsuit and is filed with the clerk of the court and is recorded in the same county recorder's office where the title of the property is recorded. The county recorder's office will register a lis pendens on a written application by the person filing the lawsuit.
A lis pendens notice is filed when a real property goes into foreclosure. If a mortgagor feels that a foreclosure is essential, filing a lis pendens stops any efforts to sell the property to avoid foreclosure. An investor who takes a second mortgage or a purchaser who buys foreclosed real estate may search in the public records for a list of properties that are about to foreclose.
A real estate investor who purchases a pre foreclosure property may search public records for any pending litigation. A pre foreclosure status is assigned to a property when a mortgagor files a notice of default on the property. The default notice will state that the mortgagor will proceed with a lawsuit if the debt is not repaid. It is called a preforeclosure property, as the original homeowner continues to be the property owner.