Q: I know it’s a seller’s market. I used a standard real estate contract to buy a home and at the last minute, the seller refused to close saying she has a better offer on the home. What can I do? I have heard of a lis pendens to stop the sale, but how does that work?

A: Generally, on a standard sell of a home, there are very few reasons a seller can cancel the contract, unless the buyer fails to meet one of the conditions such as an appraisal or loan. Otherwise, unless the buyer demands repairs that the seller refuses to do, the seller can’t simply cancel the contract. If the seller refuses to close, generally the buyer needs to serve a 3-day notice to cure. If the seller still does not close, the buyer can file a lawsuit for specific performance – meaning that they are asking the court to make the seller complete the sale. Once that lawsuit has been filed, then the buyer can record a lis pendens, which lets the public know that the ownership is in dispute and that any buyer takes title subject to what happens in the lawsuit. It’s important to remember that the lis pendens can’t be filed unless there is a pending lawsuit over title, or the person that records it could be sanctioned by a court.

Mark B. Zinman, Attorney

Information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. You should always contact an attorney for legal advice and not rely on information published here.