It is the primary mortgage on real estate that has precedence in claiming rights to the property in the case of a default. The first mortgage is usually the home loan that was used to purchase the property. The bank that provides funds to the buyer to purchase the home holds not only the note-payable for the loan but also the first mortgage. The first mortgage is in essence a security instrument allowing the bank to make a claim against the real estate if the borrower defaults, stops making payments, on the home loan. All other mortgages or liens on the home, including home equity loans, lines of credit, and judgment liens, are secondary in the hierarchy of claiming rights to the property if the borrower defaults. First mortgage will always have precedence.