house with a lien on it
Discover how to successfully sell a house with a lien. Learn your options for paying off the debt and clearing the title to sell your home.
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When you’re a property owner and wish to sell a property having a lien, there are some key steps and factors to bear in mind. This post walks you through each one, from understanding what liens are to how they impact your house sale.

Coming Up

  1. Understanding Liens: Recognize that a lien is a legal claim against your property, usually due to debts or obligations.
  2. Types of Liens: Familiarize yourself with different types of liens, such as judgment liens, property tax liens, and mechanic’s liens.
  3. Impact on Property Sales: Acknowledge that a lien can affect your ability to sell or refinance your property.

Understanding What is a House with a Lien

A lien is a legal claim or hold on your property by a lien holder, usually a creditor, to assure you pay off debts. When the lien is attached, it is said to be a ‘house with a lien’.

Defining the Concept of a Lien

The simplicity of the term ‘lien’ belies the complexity it may bring to a property owner. In essence, a lien on your property or home is a claim made by another party to secure a debt or obligation that you owe to them.

Various Types of Lien You Need to Know

Several categories of liens exist, including judgment liens, property tax liens, and mechanic’s liens.

How a Lien Affects Your Property

Having a lien attached to your property could influence your ability to sell or refinance the property. Until you resolve the lien, it could remain a hindrance.

Common Reasons Why a Lien is Placed on Your House

The reasons for a lien are various, including unpaid property taxes or a court judgment against the property owner.


  1. Searching for Liens: Conduct a thorough lien search, preferably with the assistance of a title company or real estate attorney.
  2. Role of Real Estate Attorney: Utilize a real estate attorney for legal guidance, especially in searching and negotiating lien releases.
  3. Voluntary vs Involuntary Liens: Understand the difference between voluntary liens (like mortgages) and involuntary liens (often due to unpaid debts).
  4. Selling Strategies: Develop strategies for selling a house with a lien, considering the lien’s impact on the sale process and home equity.
  5. Cash Sales: Explore options like selling to investment companies for cash, albeit often below market value.

How to Search for Possible Liens on Your Property

Optimizing your property lien search is crucial in determining if there’s a lien placed on your property.

How to Conduct a Property Lien Search

You can typically find a lien by asking a title company or a real estate attorney to conduct a title search on the property.

Roles of a Real Estate Attorney in a Property Lien Search

A skilled real estate attorney can save time and effort, providing legal guidance throughout the search process and beyond.

Understanding the Various Types of Liens That Could be on Your Property

Having a precise understanding of the kinds of lien you may face could steer your decisions in a more profitable direction. They may include voluntary liens, like a mortgage lien, or involuntary liens, typically instituted by creditors without your consent.

Involuntary Lien Vs Voluntary Lien: Key Differences

The key distinction lies in how these liens are initiated. A voluntary lien arises once a property owner willingly puts a lien on their property as collateral. An involuntary lien is forced on the property, often due to outstanding debts.

Strategies on How to Sell Your House with a Lien Attached

Learning how to sell a house with a lien is not as challenging as you might think. Proper planning and strategy can lead to successful sales.

Is it Possible to Sell a House with a Lien?

Yes, it’s possible to sell despite the lien. However, the lien waiting for payment at closing can affect the home sale process.

Retaining Home Equity When Selling a Liened House

While selling a lien-attached home may impact your home equity, with careful planning, careful negotiations, and an astute real estate attorney, you can retain the most home equity possible.

How to Sell a House with a Lien for Cash

There are investment companies ready to buy your home for cash despite the lien. However, they typically pay below market value to compensate for the lien pay-off.

Last Stretch

  1. Buyer Awareness: Ensure potential buyers are aware of the liens and their implications.
  2. Negotiating Lien Releases: Work with your attorney to negotiate a lien release, allowing the property to be sold without fully paying off the lien at closing.
  3. Releasing a Lien: If able to pay off the lien, get a release document from the creditor to remove the lien.
  4. Disputing Unjust Liens: With legal assistance, dispute any lien that may have been unjustly placed on your property.
  5. Financial Management Pre-Sale: Strategically manage your finances to address the lien before selling the house.
  6. Paying Off the Lien: Consider strategies to pay off the lien prior to finalizing the sale, with the help of financial advisors or attorneys.
  7. Tax Lien Implications: Understand the implications of a tax lien, which can increase property taxes and complicate the sale.
  8. Cost of Removing a Lien: Budget for the potential costs involved in removing a lien, ensuring a smoother sale process.

What Potential Home Buyers Need to Know about Buying a House with a Lien

Prospective home buyers should be aware of the potential complications when considering purchasing a house with a lien and should engage a real estate attorney to ensure the lien is resolved before finalizing the purchase.

Tackling the Legal Aspect of Selling a House with a Lien

A real estate attorney can navigate the legal aspects of selling a home with a lien attached, including negotiating a lien release or signing a release of lien form.

Role of a Real Estate Attorney When Selling a Liened Home

The attorney will ensure all laws are adhered to and support the seller in ensuring the lien does not obstruct the sale process, amongst other legal implications.

Negotiating a Lien Release with a Lien Holder

An attorney can help negotiate a lien release, which allows the property to be sold without paying off the lien fully at closing.

How to Sign a Release of Lien Form

If in the fortunate position to be able to pay off the lien, the creditor will provide a release of the lien document to be signed to remove the lien.

Ability to Dispute the Lien Attached to Your Home

If you can prove a lien was unjustly placed on your property, your attorney will guide you in disputing it.

How to Financially Handle a Property with a Lien Before Sale

Your finances need strategic management before selling a home with a lien.

How to Strategize Paying Off a Lien Before Selling Your House

Working with financial advisors or real estate attorneys can help you strategize and prepare to pay the lien off before finalizing your home’s sale.

Implications of a Tax Lien on Your Property Tax

A tax lien can significantly increase your property tax, as it’s often placed by government bodies seeking unpaid taxes.

The Cost of Removing a Lien Before Selling Your Home

Removing a lien can be an expensive but necessary step to sell your home smoothly. Investigate your options and budget accordingly, ideally with professional guidance.


In conclusion, successfully selling a house with a lien involves navigating various legal, financial, and strategic aspects. Understanding the nature of liens, their types, and their impact on property sales is fundamental.

Did You Know?

Financial strategies, including working with real estate investment companies, are very helpful when managing and potentially paying off the lien before the sale.

While selling a house with a lien can be challenging, informed decision-making, strategic planning, and professional guidance can lead to a successful transaction, preserving as much home equity as possible.

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