Orange County Real Property Judgment/Execution Sale Lawyer

Real Property Execution Sales as a Judgment Collection Tool

corporate-collectionsJudgment creditors can force the sale of real property owned by debtors in California.  If there is equity in the property sold (i.e., if the property’s value exceeds the senior liens encumbering the property), forced sales are an excellent source of recovery for judgment creditors.  Even when the debtor has no equity, starting the forced sale process quickly gets the debtor’s attention.  It takes several months to complete a forced sale, but initiating the process is relatively inexpensive and can produce excellent results.


Need Help Conducting a Real Property Execution Sale in California?

As seen below, the execution sale process is powerful, but also rather complex.  An experience judgment collection law firm is critical to moving through the process quickly and effectively.  Please contact us to discuss the specifics of your judgment.

The Wallin Firm focuses on collecting large debtors from businesses and individuals in Orange County and elsewhere throughout California.  Our philosophy is simple – do everything needed to maximize our clients’ likelihood of collecting their business debts and judgments.  Please contact The Wallin Firm at (949) 203-3870 for a complimentary analysis of your business collection matter or judgment and collection options.


How to Collect Judgments via Real Property Execution Sales:

The steps necessary to complete a forced sale of the debtor’s real property can be summarized as follows:

  • Step 1:  Obtain writ of execution and instruct sheriff;
  • Step 2:  Record and serve writ of execution and notice of levy;
  • Step 3:  Wait 120 days;
  • Step 4:  Record, serve, and publish Notice of Sale; and
  • Step 5:  Conduct auction, record deed in favor of creditor or highest bidder


The following is a more detailed summary of the steps necessary to force a sale of real property to collect a judgment in Orange County or elsewhere in California:

  1. To conduct the sale, the creditor must follow the typical levy process.  In other words, the creditor begins by obtaining a writ of execution in the county in which the real property is located.
  2. The creditor then delivers the original writ of execution to the sheriff, along with instructions ordering the sheriff to sell the real property to satisfy the judgment.  The instructions must include: (a) an adequate description of the property (both a legal description and street address, if any); (b) a statement whether the real property is a dwelling; (c) the judgment debtor’s name; and (d) the names and addresses of all persons whom the levying officer is required to serve.  See CCP §§ 687.010(a) and 684.130.
  3. Each county has its own rules as to who can complete the steps necessary to conduct the sale.  In some counties the “levying offer” must be the sheriff.  In other counties a registered process server can act as the levying officer.
  4. Upon receipt of instructions, the levying offer (either the sheriff or process server) will record in the public records of the subject county: (i) a copy of the writ of execution; and (ii) a notice of levy.  See CCP §700.015(a).
  5. Promptly after recording, the levying officer must serve a copy of the recorded documents on at least one occupant of the property.  If personal service cannot be accomplished, the levying officer must post a copy of the writ of execution and notice of levy in a ‘conspicuous place’ on the property.  See CCP § 700.015(c).  In addition, the writ of execution and notice of levy must promptly be served personally or by mail on the judgment debtor.  See CCP § 700.010(a).
  6. After the levy-related documents have been recorded and served, the levying officer may then record, serve, and publish a Notice of Sale of the property.  However, the Notice of Sale cannot be recorded until 120 days after service of the notice of levy (this is to give the debtor time to negotiate a resolution with the creditor, or sell/refinance to pay the creditor).  See CCP § 701.545.
  7. Upon expiration of the 120 day period, the levying offer may record the Notice of Sale.  The notice must: (i) include the date, time and place of sale; (ii) provide a legal description of the property to be sold; and (iii) provide a street address or other common designation (if any) for the property.  See CCP §§ 701.540(a) and 701.547.
  8. The levying officer must then take several steps to notice and advertise the sale, as follows:
    • Serve the Notice of Sale on the judgment debtor, personally or by mail, at least 20 days before the date of sale.  See CCP § 701.540(b),(c).
    • At least 20 days before the sale, the Notice of Sale must be posted both in: (i) a public place in the city where the property is located; and (ii) a ‘conspicuous’ place on the property.  See CCP §701.540(d).
    • Concurrently with posting, the levying officer must attempt to serve the notice of sale on one occupant of the property.  See CCP §701.540(e).
    • The levying officer must publish the Notice of Sale in a newspaper of general circulation in the city where the property is located.  See Code of Civil Procedure §701.540(g).  The publication must begin at least 20 days before the sale, and the notice must be published at least once a week for three successive weeks, with at least five days intervening between the respective publication dates.  See CCP §701.540(g) and Government Code §§6063 and 6008.
    • At least 20 days before the sale, the levying officer must mail the Notice of Sale to all junior lienholders.  See CCP §701.540(h).
  9. When the above steps are complete, the levying offer can sell the property, to the highest bidder, at the time and place stated in the Notice of Sale.  The judgment creditor can “credit bid” at the sale.  See CCP §§701.570(b),(d) and §701.590(b).
  10. The successful bidder acquires the property free and clear of any liens junior to the judgment creditor’s lien, but subject to any senior liens.  See CCP §701.640.
  11. Following the sale, the sheriff will prepare and record a deed in favor of the successful bidder.  The debtor has no right of redemption following the sale.


Contact The Wallin Firm Today for a Judgment Review

If the debtor you are pursuing owns real property, please contact us to discuss forcing a sale of the debtor’s real property.  We can be reached at (949) 203-3870.  We are always willing to provide a complimentary review of your judgment and collection options.


Important Note re Forced Sales of Real Property

If the real property is the debtor’s principal place of business, the creditor must first obtain a court order authorizing the sale of the property.


References & Helpful Links:  (Writ of Execution)

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