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Abstract of Judgement in Real Estate

Instructor: Tisha Collins Batis

Tisha is a licensed real estate agent in Texas. She holds bachelor's in legal studies and a master's degree in criminal justice.

This lesson will provide a definition of abstract judgment in real estate. Additionally, examples will be provided that will give the reader a firm grasp on what abstract judgment in real estate really is.

What is Abstract Judgment in Real Estate?

Imagine working hard to save up a down payment to purchase your dream home. You find the perfect home, purchase it, and move your family in. A few months later, you go to court for a hearing in a lawsuit that was filed against you. Unfortunately, you lose the case and a judgment is made against you. You find out from your attorney that the other party to the case can actually file a lien against your new home. A couple of weeks later, you come across an official piece of mail. As you open it and begin to read, you realize your fear has come true. An abstract judgment has been filed against your property.

Definition

An abstract judgment in real estate is also called a property lien. It's a lien against any real property you own in a particular county. This is separate from any mortgage that you may have taken out on the property. When a person loses a lawsuit in court and a judgment is ordered against him, a written summary of the judgment is made. It will state what the amount of the judgment is, what interest (if any) the individual must pay, the total amount of court costs associated with the case, and anything the individual must do in regards to the judgment. The individual that has the judgment made against him is the judgment debtor and the winning party is the judgment creditor. The judgment is recorded by the county, and if the debtor doesn't pay the judgment, the creditor can place a lien on any real property the debtor owns in the county.

Examples

Tanitha lost a case in court a few months ago and the judge ordered that she pay $3,000 to the other person in the lawsuit. Additionally, she has to pay 3% interest on that $3,000 until it's paid in full, and she has to pay all of the court costs. She doesn't think this is fair because she also paid her attorney $2,500. Tanitha doesn't think the judgment is fair, so instead of paying the judgment against her, she decides not to pay anything at all. She owns a couple of rental houses that bring in an income, and she's not really worried about her credit being ruined. What she doesn't realize is that the creditor (the person that won the lawsuit) can actually put a lien on her rental houses, and the house she lives in. She found out today that is exactly what the creditor did! Now, if she doesn't pay the money back, the creditor can force the sale of some of the property to pay the $3,000. This is a huge mess, but her new attorney explains there's really nothing she can do. She should have paid the judgment, and since she didn't, the creditor filed a lien against every property she owned in the county.

Oaklee sued Justin in court, and the judge found in Oaklee's favor. An abstract of judgment was recorded that showed that Justin owes Oaklee $15,000, plus interest and court costs. It has been a year, and Justin hasn't paid Oaklee anything. She has sent Justin letters and tried to call him repeatedly, but he has been avoiding her. She talked to her attorney, and he is going to file a lien against every piece of real property that Justin owns in the county. Oaklee is a little sad that she has to go this far, but she really needs Justin to pay the $15,000 he owes. Once the lien is filed, Justin won't be able to sell his real property until he has paid Oaklee what he owes her. Oaklee knows one of the houses he owns is paid for, so she will force the sale of the property if she has to.

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