This index is a public document. Credit reporting agencies regularly review judgment lien dockets, and will report the liens on your credit report.
- Judgments and Liens.
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If you are selling property that is subject to a judgment lien, it is very likely that you will have to pay the lien before the sale can be completed. In many states, the lien attaches to the title of the property. This means that the buyer of the property assumes responsibility for paying the lien. The lien does, however, remain in effect as to any other property you may own in that county.
As a practical matter, if the buyer needs a mortgage to buy the property, the lender will not make the loan unless you pay all judgment liens prior to closing. If the total of all liens on the property such as mortgage liens exceeds the purchase price, you will have to pay the difference in order to sell the property. Similarly, if you want to refinance the property, your lender will require that the lien be satisfied. The lender may be willing to include the balance of the lien in the amount refinanced if there is sufficient equity in the property.
If another creditor, such as your mortgage lender, forecloses on your property, the judgment lien will be paid from the proceeds of the sale. If the proceeds are not enough to pay the judgment lien, the creditor is out of luck. A lien gives the creditor the right to force a sale of any real estate you may own. As a practical matter, it is rarely worth it for the creditor to do this. When property is sold to pay a judgment lien, other liens on the property that existed before the judgment lien was filed must be paid first.
Most homeowners have prior liens such as mortgages or home equity lines of credit.
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Foreclosing on the property is very expensive for a judgment lien holder. In many states, the creditor must post a bond, and pay for a title search. If the amount owed is small, it is unlikely that the creditor will bother.
In addition, a certain amount of your equity in your home that is, real property you use as a primary residence cannot be taken by creditors. This is called your homestead exemption.
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The amount of your homestead exemption varies by state. Example 1. Because the exemption is greater than the equity you have in the home, the judgment lien creditor cannot force a sale of the property. Example 2. Assume the same facts, except that you don't have a mortgage or any other lien on the property. In this case, it may be worthwhile to the creditor to attempt to force a sale of your home. In some states, a creditor may obtain a lien on your personal property, such as shares of stock, automobiles, jewelry, equipment, or other valuables the types of property that are subject to a lien vary by state.
California and Florida are examples of states that allow a creditor to obtain a lien on personal property.
What Is the Difference Between a Property Lien and a Judgment Lien?
Other states don't allow personal property liens. In order to obtain the lien, the judgment creditor must file certain paperwork with the state.
The lien is recorded in a central registry, and the details are publicly available. Credit reporting agencies regularly review these registries, and will include the lien on your credit report. Allows the creditor to take your property. The lien gives the creditor the right to force the sale of your personal property to satisfy the judgment. This is true in every state. Notifies buyers of the lien on the property. The lien also serves as notice to potential buyers that your property has a lien on it.
This notice that makes the lien a valuable tool for creditors. Time is not on your side when it comes to gathering the intelligence needed to make smart, timely decisions. If you rely on multiple tools to access the public records and news you need, the hours add up quickly.
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