A lien is a legal claim against the property of another, usually to secure an unpaid debt.  Liens commonly arise when a homeowner pledges his or her home as collateral to borrow money.  Utility companies, contractors, local governments, and other creditors can also sometimes file a lien to collect unpaid amounts.  Buyers should review title reports closely with this in mind.  If the report contains any liens, the buyer should consult their Escrow Officer or title company to investigate.  All liens should be cleared before the buyer can legally own the home.