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How to Handle L&I Liens When You Are Selling Your Home

How to Handle L&I Liens When You Are Selling Your Home

How to Handle L&I Liens When You Are Selling Your Home 150 150 The Law Office of Nadia K. Kilburn

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It’s incredibly stressful trying to sell your home while you are in default or up against a foreclosure deadline.

It’s even more stressful when you have additional creditors with an interest in the home (a lien) in addition to the first mortgage. These creditors have to be located, contacted and pushed to produce a payoff statement telling you what you owe.

If you’re not using a Distressed Sale Manager, this stress and responsibility falls on your shoulders. First, you may be the sole party responsible for identifying whether you have additional creditors. Second, it may fall on you to figure out how much you have to pay the creditors from the proceeds of your sale. Finally, you have to get them to release their lien and allow the sale to close.

If you have an L&I lien (a lien from your state’s Department of Labor and Industries), the process can be particularly challenging.

The bad news with L&I liens:

L&I liens are not negotiable and have to be paid in full in order for the sale to close

So, if you have an L&I lien, you have to contact the Department of Labor and Industries to get them to tell you how much you owe (in writing) in order to pay them off and close your sale.

It sounds simple enough – you would think you could just call and ask them to email or mail you the amount you owe but the process can get complicated, frustrating, and time consuming.

L&I doesn’t make it easy to get a payoff statement

You can expect the following problems:

  • It can be hard to locate your lien information: It can be difficult for the representatives who work at L&I to access your lien’s information if the lien is over a year old. The information can only be accessed by senior employees who are difficult to contact.
  • People won’t be jumping to help you: There likely won’t be one person responsible for handling your L&I lien. You can expect to be pushed to people’s voicemails and shuffled among people within the department.
  • Responses don’t come in a timely manner: The people responsible for preparing these pay off statements are overworked and do not reply quickly. They often don’t understand that you are on a tight timeline with your sale.

7 ways to quickly get your L&I payoff statement

  1. Say the right words when you call and make your request sound simple: It can be hard to explain what you need to a representative. Because they have limited time, make sure you say the right thing when you call so they clearly understand what you’re needing:
  2. “Hello! I am selling my home. L&I has a lien on title that needs to be paid in order for the sale to close. All I need is to get a payoff statement in writing good for 30-days so I know how much money I owe.”
  3. Turn down the first attempt to be transferred to a voicemail: They may try to rush you off the phone by transferring you to someone’s voicemail. Be polite but firm and let them know that this is a relatively urgent matter and you’d prefer to get to someone right away (usually, multiple people in the department can help you).
  4. If you have to leave a voicemail, make sure you state that you are on a tight timeline and need a call back or a response within 24 hours.
  5. Follow up your voicemail or initial request with a request in writing: Ask the phone representative for a fax number. Write on a piece of paper your name, social security number, the date of your L&I judgment or your case number (found on your title report) and ask for a payoff statement good for 30-days. Make sure you put a good fax number or email for them to send it back to.
  6. Be relentless and call the department every day until you have an email address of someone who can help you: Your goal is to get an email address of someone in the department who can help you so you can email your request directly to the right person. If you get an email address, chances are you’ve found the right person. If you haven’t been given an email address yet, your job is to call every day and explain the same thing until someone gives you an email address of the person who can help you.
  7. Once you have the email address of the person who can help you, follow up with them regularly until you have the payoff statement: Once you have an email address, following up every 48 hours is reasonable.
  8. Once you get your payoff statement, send it to escrow and continue to track its expiration: Once you are able to get your official payoff statement confirming the amount that you owe, send it directly to your escrow agent so they can include the amount on your settlement statement. Continue to pay attention to when the payoff statement expires. Typically, payoff statements are good only for 30-days at a time so if your closing gets delayed, be aware of the date the payoff expires so you can order a new one to avoid delays.

If you are currently having trouble with getting your L&I payoff statement, that is understandable. They aren’t easy to work with. If you decide that you need some help with L&I, or if you have any other title or lien issues you would like to discuss, please give me a call at (425) 654-1674.

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