Starting Out in Real Estate Wholesaling: Researching The Deed

3 Replies

Hello BP Fam,

I am starting out as a wholesaler, as most who have only a part-time job and very little cash reserves would

How do I identify and address any liens/judgments on a given property before going through with the deal with my partners (investor buyers) so that those issues cannot and will not pop up later?

Thank You,

Patrick S.

One way is to see if the County Recorder's or Register of Deeds Office where the property is has an online records search system. If so, you can search the county records to see what liens are filed of record against the property and to get a basic chain of title. You will also want to check the court systems to see if there are any judgments against current or previous owners that could attach as liens to the property (these often are not recorded in the same way deeds and other liens are). Then check the taxes to see if there are any delinquencies there or if a tax lien certificate has been sold on the property. 

Another way to do it would be to contact a Real Estate Attorney in your area that would provide a basic lien report on the property for a reasonable price. They already have the experience to know what to look for and where to find it. These are normally called Ownership and Encumbrance (O&E) reports, but I can't remember if those are legal in's been a while since I've been in the business.

A preliminary title search is always a good idea.  Good for you being aware of that @Patrick Sullivan !  After searching on  my own with my county recorder online like @Jim Viens mentions, I order a L&E or O&E (lien/owner & encumbrance) report from my local title co for $80 for a more detailed search if there are questionables or if title insurance hasn't been issued in a while if serious about the deal. 

Learning to do your own preliminary research can save some $$$ but take up some time.  Depends which is more valuable.  The clients we work with focus on other areas of the business and have their title people do the research.  

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