What to Do If a Judgment Lien Is Keeping You From Selling or Refinancing

If you’re trying to refinance or sell your home (or if you’re a real estate professional trying to close a deal), having a cloud on the title is a nightmare. A judgment lien is one such roadblock to completing the transaction. The property owner will need to have the judgment lien removed so the title can be cleared and the property sold. A knowledgeable California debt settlement attorney can have the lien taken off, possibly without payment to the creditor or debt collector. That’s where The Fullman Firm comes in.

How a Judgment Lien Gets in the Way

If a debtor owes a creditor and doesn’t pay, the creditor can file a lawsuit and demand the balance of the debt owed. When a final judgment is obtained, the creditor can then obtain a lien against the debtor’s real property. In California, there’s a process to attach the lien to the real property. Generally, the judgment creditor must send an Abstract of Judgment to the recorder’s office in the county where the debtor owns the property. The property cannot be transferred until the lien is satisfied or otherwise removed. And that means you, the real estate agent, can’t close the deal.

Options

Getting rid of the judgment lien can be complicated, but there are a number of possible strategies to do so. It’s important to have a lawyer assist with the process so that all options are exhausted and the judgment is correctly and completely removed. Here are a few ways to remove the lien:

  • Invalidate the lien. If the lien is invalid or was obtained in a manner that doesn’t follow the procedural requirements under the law, an attorney may be able to strip the lien from the property.  For example, an attorney may attempt to obtain a court order removing the lien if it was obtained through fraud, bad faith, coercion, or some other illegal means. At The Fullman Firm, we have removed many judgment liens. 
  • Satisfy the debt. This is the simplest way to have the lien cleared. Contact the creditor who filed the lien and find out how much it costs to satisfy it. Be sure to include judgment costs, interests, and fees to ensure you have the correct total. Setting up a payment arrangement may be possible.
  • Negotiate a lower payoff. An experienced debt settlement attorney may be able to negotiate the total down to a more acceptable amount for the debtor. Although payment arrangements may be possible, creditors usually demand a lump sum payment if they’re willing to accept less money.
  • File for bankruptcy. The debtor may need to consider filing for bankruptcy to get rid of the debt behind the judgment lien. Along with the bankruptcy filing, the debtor may file a motion to avoid the judgment lien and remove the cloud from the property title.

If the judgment lien is satisfied, the creditor will need to file a satisfaction of judgment with the court that issued the lien. This will then have the effect of clearing the title. However, it’s critical that the satisfaction be accurate, legally sufficient, and correctly filed in the proper county. A California debt settlement attorney can help with this process so that you, the real estate agent, can move forward with the transaction.

Let The Fullman Firm Help

There may be other ways to remove the judgment lien from the property. Regardless, the best step you can take is to retain the services of a knowledgeable California debt settlement lawyer. If your real estate client has a lien blocking the sale of the property, don’t delay taking the steps necessary so you can finalize the deal. The Fullman Firm has extensive experience handling these types of cases, and we’re ready to help you. Give us a call today.