I was talking to a friend who was looking at purchasing a piece of property. He was nervous because it was to be his first home and asked me about liens and doing a property lien search.
How Do I Find Out if there are Any Liens on a Property?
The answer is pretty straight forward. For the most part, liens are a matter of public record once recorded. To find if there are any liens, here are your options:
- Search the county recorder, clerk, or assessors office online. All you need is the name of the property owner, or it’s address. If your county does not have the data online, then:
- Visit the county recorder, clerk, or assessor’s office in person. Generally, you will find that these people will be quite helpful, and could give you pointers if you need any.
- Contact a title company. Title representatives can be extremely helpful in many ways . . . finding liens is one of them. I strongly advise having a good title rep as part of your investing team!
With that in mind, Title Insurance is there to protect you as the buyer from liens you did not expect such as last minute liens, or those that may not have been known or recorded. Like other insurance, they will write a check to deal with the liens if they are missed. If you want to protect yourself from any potential liens, you want to be sure to purchase an owner’s policy. It is an owner’s title policy, not a lender’s policy that protects the buyer of the property.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t count on the word of the seller or even your real estate agent, as they may not necessarily know about all liens or possible defects in the title.
Property Lien Search: How to Find out if there are Liens on a Property by Joshua Dorkin