Property Bonds: What to Know Before Using Your Home for a Loved One's Bail

Getting a troubling, middle of the night call from a child, sibling, or other loved one who has been arrested for a crime happens all too often. Invariably, the caller needs help with posting bail so that they will not have to remain in custody until their court date.

When the recipient of the call does not have the available funds to cover the bail amount, the idea of using their home or property to guarantee the bail bond may arise. If you or a loved one is being asked to use a home or other parcel of real estate for the purpose of bailing someone out of jail, here is some important information you need to know before you agree to do so. 

How does a property bond work? 

Using a parcel of real estate to help get a loved one released from jail can seem like the only choice when available cash or other means of payment is not an option. Basically, property bonds use the parcel of real estate as collateral, much like a bank would use it for the purpose of lending money. 

Property bonds are legal, binding documents that give the court the right to repossess your land or home should your loved one fail to live up to the terms of the property bond that were agreed upon. 

Are property bonds always accepted? 

Most court systems choose to only consider property bonds when the property in question has no outstanding mortgage or when it has sufficient equity to cover the bond amount. Most courts will also verify that all real estate taxes are current on any property that is being offered as collateral for a property bond. 

However, it is important to understand that courts are not required to accept a property bond and a few states do not allow property bonds in any form. 

How long does it take for a property bond to process? 

Unlike most bail bond agreements that typically take only a few hours, property bonds can take several days or even a week or more to arrange. This time frame is necessary to give the court time to research the value of the property in the current real estate market and to verify tax payment information and legal ownership. 

Before considering putting your house or land up for collateral in this situation, consider discussing your situation with a reputable bail bond agent. These professionals may be able to help you find a more financially feasible way to bail your loved one out of jail without risking your home or property.