A lien is a right of legal claim against a property should the borrower be unable to repay his debt.
For almost all mortgages, lenders place a lien on the property as soon as the offer letter is accepted and signed by the borrower.
This gives them a claim to the house should the homeowner be unable to repay the loan and default.
The house acts as a collateral for a secured loan.
There are various types of liens third parties can place on a property.
For example builders can place a lien on a house to ensure that they get paid for their improvement work on it.
But the most common is the mortgage lien.
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