The answer is yes, but it is a complicated procedure used rarely.
Let’s say, for example, that someone sues you and obtains a $100K judgment against you. The first step they will probably take to collect is to obtain from the court an ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT, (basically a summary of the amount of judgment and the identity of the creditor and debtors) and record that with the county recorder. This creates a lien on any real estate the debtor owns in the county.
Often the creditor just waits until the debtor sells or refinances the home, which will result in the judgment being paid. Judgments bear interest at 10% per year, meaning that they double approximately every 7 years. If the judgment was $100K in 2020, it will be $200K in 2027.
However, a more aggressive creditor can force a sale of the home at a public auction. The creditor can obtain an order from the court authorizing the sale, which will not take place for at least 120 days after the process is started. When the property is sold, the proceeds are distributed as follows: First, to pay any prior liens, such as mortgages, tax liens, etc. Second, to pay the debtor’s HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION (the amount of equity the debtor is allowed to keep from his / her home). Third, to pay the judgment creditor, and Fourth, any remaining amount will be returned to the debtor.
Here’s an example of how this might work, using hypothetical figures.
|Value of home||$1,500,000|
|Payment of Judgment Lien||-150,000|
|Amount returned to Debtor||250,000|
At any time prior to the actual sale, the Debtor can stop the process by either paying the amount owed to the Judgment Creditor (or paying whatever lesser amount the Creditor is willing to settle for in exchange for a prompt payment); or by filing a bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 or Chapter 11 would allow the Debtor to pay the judgment lien over a period of 5 years.