Understanding Mortgages – What is a Lien?

When discussing mortgages, one term that often arises is “lien.” A mortgage is not a loan, but a lien on the property that keeps the loan secure. It is important to understand this confusing term in order to properly understand mortgages and property ownership.

A lien is a hold on your property so that is can be used as collateral for money or service you owe to another party. A lien can keep the borrower from selling a piece of property by preventing the transfer of property title to a new party. Liens are often involved in situations in which one person or party has loaned money toward a substantial item in the possession of a borrower, such as in a mortgage. A lender can force the sale of any property that has a lien in order to collect money owed from the borrower. If instead the borrower decides to sell the property, he or she must pay the lien-holder before the property title can be transferred to the buyer.

One common example of a lien is a construction lien. When a property needs repair, maintenance, or renovation, the property owner often hires someone to do the work. After the work has been completed, the property-owner is legally obligated to pay for the improvements to the property. The lien exists in order to help ensure that a construction worker can be properly compensated without having to sue the property owner.

If you have decided to purchase property, you should make sure that there is no lien on the property. A lien on the property may mean that the person attempting to sell the property is not the legally recognized property owner. Therefore, a lien can prevent you from securing a clear title, and you may not fully own the new property you have purchased. You can hire an abstract company to conduct a title search by delving through public records concerning the property’s history to be sure that no lien exists. The title search should also indicate if the seller is legally recognized as the property owner, the description of the property, and details of any lien or other holds on the property.

A mortgage is one type of lien. Therefore, a mortgage is not a loan in and of itself, but rather a way for a lender to secure property rights while the borrower still owes money. Although the term “mortgage” is often used interchangeably with “loan,” the two are indeed different. Before deciding to buy or sell property, it is important to be fully informed about legal issues surrounding mortgages and titles to be sure that you fully own the property.

For more information about loans, mortgages, refinancing, and other issues, visit the website of the Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers of the DeLadurantey Law Office, LLC.

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