Title & Lien Search

20 Replies

My partner and I are currently making offers on vacant lots and are going to be purchasing them at a GREAT discount. There are recorded lien searches on my county's official records page where it shows a title search. I then look up the owner's name (on the county's website) and see the liens on the vacant property, which are the same liens that come up on the title search.

My question: Can I do my own title & lien search through the county's website, or do I NEED to hire a title company to do this for me?

(Jon & Joshua, if my question is in the wrong forum please let me know where to post it!)

I would say that you should definitely get a title company to do it. Sometimes there are liens on the property that have not been recorded with the county. Nevertheless, they can still come back and bite you. I am currently defending my company's lien position on a property in Kansas City. An unrecorded lien is claiming to have first position... boy, am I glad that we have title insurance.

Every month that I go to the sheriff sale, I do my own title work on prospective properties - in bulk. It's unaffordable to pay for each one when the defaulted borrower can get a last-minute reprieve from the foreclosure. I'll bet if you asked most buyers at the foreclosure auctions, they will tell you they do their own title research (or have an employee do it), and not use a title company.

So, you can definitely do these for your self, if you are certain that nothing is being missed in the process; IRS liens come to mind - where I'm at, they don't attach a parcel ID to the IRS lien, so they don't just "show up" by default.

As far as unrecorded items, your local laws will determine whether they have any standing; usually unless there is a public record, there is no standing.

And be sure you have an up-to-date search. I see so many municipal liens pop up just before the sheriff sale; those municipalities do want to get paid :wink:

Be sure you can identify ALL possible liens too; some of the sites in my county only show a part of the picture - I have to use a number of sites to research all of the ones I know of. And, you should be able to identify and distinguish all sorts of instruments that are used - mortgages, assignment of mortgage, subordination agreement, mortage modification, lien release, etc.

Hi, what you need is a preliminary title search. If you do enough business with a title company they will search it for you AND IF YOUR DEAL CLOSES, they will charge you at settlement for the search with the title insurance premium. They don't go into great detail, searching heirs for example, but they will check for liens and encumbrances and give you a letter of intent to insure title. Usually, this is done over the phone. They will also check your local legal news publication to see if any names may be attached to the subject property, as of a certain date. Good luck, Bill

Thanks for the replies.

My situation is that I am buying these vacant lots in my developing area for $100-200 each. With title insurance, they only cover what I pay for the property. So, if I get a title search, title insurance, and all that fun stuff, in the end I will only be covered what I pay for it.

This is where I see that the county I am working in has practically done the title search for me. There are title search documents online dated back to six months ago, that works for me, especially since these properties are going to tax deed auction.

Also, Steve mentioned that "unrecorded items" have no standing unless there is public record. On that note, isn't there a time frame for these liens? Can someone claim a lien for 20-30 years ago? Most of these properties are either inherited or were purchased way back then.

There is a difference between "unrecorded items" and "extinct items". Unrecorded means just that - it never was placed in the recorder's office, and it never made it into the public record. Extinct means that an item is recorded, but time has passed without the beneficiary enforcing any claims; whether things can become extinct will probably vary from state to state - and how long it takes will probably also vary.

I just came across some doozies in prepping for the most recent sheriff sale that I attended. One of them was a case of two parcels that were mortgaged together in a single note; liens appeared on one, satisfaction was recorded against the other. It can get messy.

Hye hello I am in the same situacion, I am about to bet in a Broward tax sales.
I have like 15 prospects and money to buy just 2 or 3 with luck.
How can I get record on the liens, violations and other services debts?

I am the managing partner at a title company.

You 100% need to have an abstractor do your searches especially anywhere in Florida, let alone in the Broward/Miami/Palm beach area. There is so much "shenanigans" going on with these properties that are at the auctions, I see it daily from errors that would land you in court to straight up fraud. My main team of REO & tax specialists all have 20 years+ experience in South Florida, you wouldn't want to do this stuff yourself.

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do extinct items related to a mortgage companies in Florida ? more specifically, i mean what happens if a mortgage company did not get their lien recorded, and someone buys a house from the court, and then the bank wants to foreclose even though their lien is not record . 


I know this post is very old .lol but topic was I Interesting, I know once you start the process of closing a deal ,the title company does all the research for anything outstanding. But how about when your in the process to either see a Potiential client/property to get a contract sign? Where do you suggest to go see before hand? I'm starting in wholesaling at the moment.


@Wayne Brooks thank you.

@Priscilla Z. Sorry for the confusion. Let me give a better example. I had a seller call me, I asked my questions to get insight on a property. Her Husband and her are both the owners of the property,he owes IRS for personal taxes and therefore there's a lien on the property. So my question is where can I myself research this type of things before meeting the seller so I have all my details.

@Lesley Rodriguez - I second what @Wayne Brooks said...he gave you the correct advice.  I wouldn't count on just your search, the title company will do the best job of that.  They should disclose all the liens the property has up front, and once you have contract just pay the title company to do a thorough search.

Something that came up for me recently was mineral rights. A bank owner property was just sitting on the market forever, finally went under contract, fell back out. I called the agent just because I was curious. Turned out, the mineral right had been sold in the 50's and it was just now discovered. The company that bought them will not sell them back. I have no idea how they will sell this property - but it sure taught me the importance of using a title company and having insurance. The bank must have missed this the first time around or they would have never lended on it. 

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