Involuntary Alienation

Definition of "Involuntary alienation"

Lisa Turner real estate agent
Lisa Turner, Real Estate Agent Lisa Turner - Selman And Associates

The definition of involuntary alienation in real estate is the loss of property through attachment, condemnation, foreclosure, sale for taxes or other involuntary transfer of title. Involuntary alienation differs from voluntary alienation in that in the latter, the residents vacate voluntarily, whereas they do not in the case of the former. 


Perhaps the most commonly seen of these is foreclosure, in which a bank evicts the residents from their home due to unpaid mortgage payments. Let’s look at a couple of examples of involuntary alienation. 


Examples of Involuntary Alienation in Real Estate


Richard is a twenty-four-year-old electrical engineer in a fairly remote town with a respectable population of 21,000 residents. After getting his certification, Richard finds a high-paying position with attractive benefits and steady work. As many professionals his age often do, Richard buys a flashy, expensive car, and starts payments on a large house that is well above his means. 


As a result of the collapse of the largest employer in the county, Richard loses his job and is forced to take a lower-paying job just to make ends meet. After several months of decreased income, Richard’s savings have run out, and he begins to miss his house payments. One evening, after a hard day of work at his grueling new job, Richard returns home to find a large red-and-white sign reading “FORECLOSED” standing in his front yard. 


This is an example of foreclosure, one of the most common types of involuntary alienation. As is sometimes the case with this type of action on the part of the bank, the foreclosure was unannounced, as residents often destroy the property in response to the eviction notice. There are other circumstances under which residents may be involuntarily alienated from their property such as failure to pay property taxes, but foreclosure is by far the most common.


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Property seized by a bank is often sold at lower than it would otherwise sell for as the bank is simply interested in covering the money owed. When looking to buy a house ask the realtor about foreclosures.

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