A lien is a hold or a claim on the property of another to satisfy an unpaid debt.

When you think of lien, you owe money.

Just keep saying to your self:

Lien money - Lien money - Lien money - Lien money – until whenever you see the word a lien a dollar sign pops into your head.

Remember all liens are attached to the property, not the owner, so when you take on a new property, you want to make sure to have the appropriate liens removed before transferring title.

Let’s discuss liens a bit further.

Liens are classified as

General or specific

Voluntary or Involuntary

Statutory or equitable

A general lien is a lien on all property, both real and personal of a debtor, not just a specific property.

Examples would be

Judgment liens

Corporation or franchise tax liens

Inheritance tax

Income tax

Debts of a deceased person

If a person owes taxes to the IRS it is a general lien against all real and personal property of the delinquent tax payer.

A specific lien is against one property.

Examples would be

A trust deed or mortgage

Property tax


Mechanics lien

As a general rule specific liens are debts that are directly tied to the property.

A voluntary lien would be a lien that was placed on the property with the consent of the owner.

Remember when you take a loan out to obtain a property.  You have voluntarily created a debt, thus you have created a voluntary lien.  So Mortgages and Trust deeds are great examples of voluntary liens.

An involuntary lien is placed on the property without the consent of the owner.  An example would be a judgment and mechanics lien.

A judgment is the courts final decision of the rights or obligations of the parties involved.

Once the judgment has been filed it creates a general lien against the property of the defendant

A mechanics is a lien placed on real property in favor of parties who have performed work or furnished materials for the improvement of real estate.


A statutory lien is placed on the property by law.

Examples would be real estate property taxes and special assessments.

An equitable lien is placed on the property by written contract or by what is fair and equitable.

An example would be a lis pendens

Lis pendens is Latin for "suit pending." This may refer to any pending lawsuit or to a specific situation with a public notice of litigation that has been recorded in the same location where the title of real property has been recorded. This notice secures a plaintiff’s claim on the property so that the sale, mortgage, or encumbrance of the property will not diminish plaintiff's rights to the property, should the plaintiff prevail in its case. In some jurisdictions, when the notice is properly recorded, lis pendens is considered constructive notice to the other litigants or other unrecorded or subordinate lien holders. The term is sometimes abbreviated as "lis pend".

In current practice, a lis pendens is a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed concerning real estate, involving either the title to the property or a claimed ownership interest in it. The notice is usually filed in the county land records office. Recording a lis pendens against a piece of property alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property’s title is in question, which makes the property less attractive to a buyer or lender. After the notice is filed, anyone who nevertheless purchases the land or property described in the notice takes subject to the ultimate decision of the lawsuit.

A foreclosure will wipe out a lis pendens. If the lis pendens does not end in a foreclosure at auction, then it will stay a lis pendens where the subsequent buyer will have constructive notice.

A foreclosure is defined as a lawsuit to force the sale of a property for the non payment of the debt or other terms found in the loan documents.

A deed in lieu of foreclosure is when a deed to real property accepted by a lender from a defaulting borrower to avoid the necessity of foreclosure proceedings by the lender.

A deficiency judgment is a legal judgment given when the property securing a debt is insufficient to satisfy the remaining debt.

For example your owe 200 thousand and the bank is going to foreclose on the property, the property is only worth 150 thousand, the property does not cover the debt, thus a deficiency judgment would be filed.

The order of recording establishes the lien position or the lien priority.  The term senior lien means that it is in the first lien position

A junior lien is any lien below or after the senior lien.  Because the senior lien gets paid first, the junior is a higher position of risk, witch is why they tend to be smaller and have higher interest rates.

Real estate taxes and special assessments take priority over all other liens. Remember, nobody steps in front of the government.  Real estate taxes witch are also known as Ad Valorem taxes.  Ad Valorem is Latin for “according to value”  These taxes pay for services provided by the government. Such schools and police stations   Special assessments pay for improvement to owner’s property such as curbs and sidewalks

A mechanics lien is filed for the non payment of labor or materials that were used to improve the property.  Generally the priority of liens would be in the order of which they were recorded.  However the mechanics lien witch is effective from the day the work begins or materials were furnished to the property.

Mechanics Liens take priority over a mortgage or a trust deed, thus impairing the security of a mortgage or trust deed.  Because the loan can not be paid back until the worker does.


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