Can a House be Sold with a Lien on it in Florida?

Can a House be Sold with a Lien on it

You’ve got a lien on your house, and you’re wondering if you can still sell it, right? You’re not alone. This is a common issue that many homeowners face, and it can feel like a big roadblock. But guess what? It’s not the end of the world.

In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about selling a house with a lien in Florida. We’ll cover the types of liens you might encounter, legal steps to take, and even some quick solutions to get that property off your hands. Ready to turn this problem into a solution?

Let’s dive in.

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Table of Contents

What is a Lien?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of selling a house with a lien, it’s crucial to understand what a lien actually is. A lien is a legal claim made against your property, essentially serving as a public notice that you owe money to a creditor. Imagine you’re window shopping, and you see a beautiful item you want, but there’s a sign on it that says, “Reserved.” That’s what a lien does to your property. It tells potential buyers and the world at large that someone else has a claim on it. This claim can come from various sources—maybe you owe back taxes, or perhaps you have unpaid contractor bills. Either way, a lien complicates things when you’re trying to sell your house.

Now, why should you care about a lien? Well, it’s not just a piece of paper or an entry in some database. A lien can seriously impact your ability to sell your home, and it can even lead to foreclosure in some cases. It’s like a cloud hanging over your property, making everything from selling to refinancing more challenging. Creditors use liens as a way to secure their debt, ensuring that they’ll get their money back, either when the property is sold or through legal means like foreclosure.

You see, understanding what a lien is sets the stage for everything else we’re going to discuss. It’s the cornerstone of the issue, and getting a handle on it is the first step in resolving the challenges you might be facing. And remember, while a lien is a hurdle, it’s not an insurmountable one. With the right information and actions, you can clear that lien and move forward with your life.

Florida view

Types of Liens on a Home


First up is the mortgage lien. This is the most common type of lien you’ll encounter. When you buy a home with a mortgage, the lender places a lien on the property. This means if you stop making payments, they have the right to take over.

Tax Lien

Next is the tax lien. If you’re behind on your property taxes, the government can slap a lien on your house. This is their way of saying, “Pay up, or else!”

General Judgment Lien

A general judgment lien can happen if you lose a court case and owe money. The person who won the case can request this lien, making it harder for you to sell your home without settling that debt.

Contractor’s Lien

Lastly, we have the contractor’s lien. If you hired someone to do work on your house and didn’t pay them, they could file a lien against your property. Yep, even contractors have ways to make sure they get their money.

Florida skyline view

Can You Sell a House with a Lien or Judgment on It?

Let’s tackle one of the most pressing questions you’re likely asking yourself: Can you actually sell a house that has a lien or judgment against it? The straightforward answer is yes, you can. However, it’s not as simple as putting a “For Sale” sign in your yard and waiting for the offers to roll in. Having a lien on your property can be a significant deterrent for potential buyers. It’s like trying to sell a car that needs a new transmission; sure, someone might buy it, but they’ll expect a steep discount.

The presence of a lien often means you’ll get lower offers than you would for a lien-free property. It’s not just about the money you owe; it’s also about the hassle and risk that buyers associate with purchasing a property that has legal strings attached. Buyers might worry that the lien could lead to complications down the line, or they might not want to deal with the extra paperwork and potential delays. This is why properties with liens often stay on the market longer and sell for less than their lien-free counterparts.

But here’s the silver lining: selling a house with a lien is entirely possible, and there are multiple ways to go about it. You could pay off the lien before selling, include the lien amount in the sale price, or even negotiate with the lienholder for a reduced payoff amount. Some buyers, especially investors, specialize in “problem” properties and might be willing to buy your house as-is, lien and all.

While selling a house with a lien comes with its own set of challenges, it’s far from a hopeless situation. The key is to be informed, transparent, and proactive throughout the selling process. With the right approach and perhaps some professional guidance, you can successfully sell your property and move on to the next chapter of your life.

How to Remove a Lien

You’ve got a lien on your property, and you’re ready to get rid of it. But how do you go about doing that? There are a couple of main routes you can take to remove a lien, each with its own set of steps and considerations. Whether you’re looking to pay it off or considering legal avenues for its removal, we’ve got you covered. Let’s break down your options.

Paying Off the Lien

The simplest way to remove a lien is to pay it off. It’s like settling a bill; once it’s paid, it’s done. Here’s how it generally works:

  1. Contact the lienholder to find out the exact amount you owe.
  2. Make the payment, either in full or through a negotiated settlement.
  3. Obtain a lien release, a legal document that proves the lien has been satisfied.
  4. File the lien release with the appropriate government office to remove the lien from public records.

After taking these steps, the lien should be removed from your property, making it easier to sell or refinance. It’s a straightforward process, but it does require some legwork and, of course, the funds to settle the debt.

Legal Avenues for Lien Removal

Sometimes, paying off the lien just isn’t feasible. Maybe you dispute the validity of the lien, or perhaps you simply can’t afford to pay it off. In such cases, you might consider legal avenues for removal. Here’s a general outline of what that might involve:

  1. Consult with a real estate attorney to evaluate the validity of the lien.
  2. Gather evidence to support your case, such as proof of payment or documentation of work completed.
  3. File a petition to remove the lien, which will likely involve a court hearing.
  4. If successful, obtain a court order stating that the lien is invalid.
  5. File the court order with the appropriate government office to have the lien removed from public records.

Going the legal route can be more complicated and time-consuming, but it’s sometimes the best or only option. Just be prepared for legal fees and a potentially lengthy process.

Whether you choose to pay off the lien or pursue legal avenues for its removal, the goal is the same: to free your property from this financial encumbrance. Each approach has its pros and cons, and the best choice for you will depend on your specific circumstances. But the good news is, you do have options. With the right steps and perhaps some professional guidance, you can successfully remove that lien and move forward, whether that means selling your property or simply enjoying it without the cloud of debt hanging over it.

Florida law book

Steps When Selling a House with a Lien

You’ve got a lien on your property, and you’re ready to sell. But how do you go about it? Selling a house with a lien is like running a race with a weighted backpack; it’s doable, but you’ve got to know how to manage the extra burden. In this part, we’ll walk you through the various steps you can take to sell your house, even if it has a lien on it. From paying it off upfront to negotiating with creditors, we’ve got you covered.

Pay the Lien Upfront

The most straightforward way to make your property more appealing to buyers is to pay off the lien before you even list the house for sale. This clears the title and allows you to sell your house without any legal complications. It’s like cleaning your house before an open house; it just makes everything look better.

Negotiate the Debt

If you can’t pay the full amount, don’t lose hope. Creditors are often willing to negotiate. They’d rather get some money than no money at all. You can often settle the debt for less than the full amount, making it easier for you to move forward with the sale.

Dispute the Lien

If you believe the lien is unjust or incorrect, you have the option to dispute it. This is a legal process, and you’ll need to consult with an attorney. It’s like challenging a bad call in a game; you’ll need evidence and a good argument.

Get a Payoff Letter from Creditors

After you’ve either paid off the lien or made arrangements to do so, make sure to get a payoff letter from the creditors. This letter serves as proof that you’re actively resolving the lien, and it can be a valuable asset when negotiating with potential buyers.

Use the Sale Proceeds to Pay the Lien

Another option is to use the proceeds from the sale of the house to pay off the lien. This is usually handled at closing, and it means you won’t see that portion of the sale money, as it will go directly to settling the debt.

Sell a House with a Lien for Cash

If time is of the essence, you might consider selling your house “as is” to a cash buyer. This can be a quick and efficient way to resolve the issue, especially if you’re facing urgent financial challenges like foreclosure.

Obtain a Lien Release

Last but not least, once the lien is paid off, make sure to obtain a lien release. This is essentially your receipt, proving that the lien has been resolved. It clears the way for you to sell your property without any further complications.

Selling a house with a lien can be a complex process, but it’s far from impossible. The key is to understand your options and take proactive steps to resolve the lien, whether that’s through payment, negotiation, or legal avenues. By following these steps and perhaps seeking professional advice, you can successfully sell your house and move on to your next adventure.

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Selling to House Cash Buyers as a Solution

If you’re looking to sell fast, consider selling to house cash buyers. These are investors who buy properties in any condition, liens and all. They usually offer a quick closing, which can be a lifesaver if you’re in a tight spot.

How to Find Reputable House Cash Buyers

Finding a reputable cash buyer is crucial. Do your research, check reviews, and maybe even get some recommendations. The last thing you want is to get scammed in an already stressful situation.

What to Expect in the Process

Selling to a cash buyer is pretty straightforward. They’ll assess your property, make an offer, and if you accept, you could close in as little as a week. It’s a hassle-free way to get out of a tough spot.

Financial Implications

Tax Implications

Selling a house with a lien can have tax implications. For instance, if you negotiate the debt down, the amount forgiven might be considered taxable income. Make sure to consult a tax advisor to understand all the details.

Impact on Credit Score

A lien can ding your credit score, and so can selling a house under certain conditions. If you’re behind on payments, for example, expect your credit score to take a hit.

Mortgage arrears law

Disclosures and Legalities in Florida

Required Disclosures When Selling a House

In Florida, you’re required to disclose any known issues with the property, liens included. Failure to do so could land you in legal hot water.

The Legal Process of Selling a House with a Lien

The legal process involves a lot of paperwork and legal jargon. But don’t worry; your real estate agent and lawyer will guide you through it. Just make sure to read everything carefully.

Federal Laws Regarding Liens

According to federal law, a lien doesn’t necessarily stop you from selling your property. But it does make things more complicated. It’s essential to know your rights and responsibilities.

Consequences of Not Disclosing a Lien

Not disclosing a lien is a big no-no. You could face legal consequences, not to mention it’s just bad business.


You’ve made it to the end, and you’re probably feeling a lot more informed about how to tackle the issue of a lien on your house in Florida. From understanding what a lien is to exploring your options for selling, we’ve covered the bases to help you make the best decision for your situation.

If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to sell your house fast, even with a lien, we’re here to help. At Liberty House Buying Group, we specialize in buying homes as-is, liens and all. Why not give us a call? Take the next step toward a fresh start and a lien-free future.


Eli Pasternak

Eli Pasternak is an experienced Home Cash Buyer and a licensed Real estate Agent. As the owner of Liberty House Buying Group, Eli’s goal is to provide home sellers with better options for their real estate problems than a traditional home sale. He’s been featured in multiple publications, including, Yahoo Finance, MSN, AOL, NBC, FOX, Apartment Therapy,, and more. With Eli's professional guidance, rest assured that your real estate needs will be expertly addressed.

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