If you are in the market for purchasing a new property, you want to be sure there are no legal problems attached to the purchase. It is crucial to understand how lien searches are performed so you know there are no debts against the property that can become your responsibility.
Whether you are the seller or the buyer of property, you do not want the aggravation of dealing with a property lien that could leave you with an expensive bill or hefty legal fees. If a lien exists, it will typically take money and a lot of time to solve and almost always involves hiring a real estate attorney to get a property owner released from the lien.
Property Lien Definition
If the property owner fails to pay a debt, a legal claim can be made against their home. This claim or property lien is a way for creditors to recover money that is owed to them. Mortgages are a form of property liens but are typically taken out voluntarily by homeowners. Involuntary liens are typically the result of the homeowner leaving debts unpaid.
A mortgage lien would be paid off during the sale so it would not change the ability to transfer the title of the house to a new owner. What will cause problems are involuntary liens, as a creditor may claim some of the house’s value, which can prevent its sale. Some examples of involuntary liens include:
- Unpaid IRS bill
- Divorce lien in which the spouse can stop a property sale
- Mechanics lien where the property owner has not paid someone who performed work on the house
- Judgment lien where there is an existing creditor who is owed money
All of these forms of property liens can impact whether you can purchase or sell a property. Most of the list above will be completed in the title search that your title professional will complete once a property is under contract.
Lien searches are primarily looking for:
- Unpaid utilities
- Unpaid real estate taxes
- Open permits
- Code violations
How to Perform Lien Searches
To discover whether or not a property you want to buy has a lien against it is a process of lien searches. Lien searches are required to be officially documented in public records, so there are a few options to follow for lien searches.
Lien searches can be done online or in person, and the easiest method is to check real estate public records online. Going through the county register of deeds or the assessor’s records for the property in question will provide you the answer you need regarding a lien. You will only need the current property owner’s name and address to find this information online.
You can also visit your local assessor’s office and ask for help in lien searches. Your local title company can also perform lien searches to uncover any unpaid liens against a property; often they outsource this task. Another option for performing lien searches is to contact Property Debt Research. They are a trusted source for performing lien searches. These professionals have the industry experience to ensure any liens are uncovered, and your sale or purchase goes through smoothly.
Other Types of Lien Searches
Another report you can request through Property Debt Research is a Property Information Report. These lien searches are not to serve or replace title insurance but will provide you with information to give you peace of mind during your real estate transaction. This report will provide you with:
- A legal description of the property
- The name of the legal owner of the property
- Any recorded liens that will affect the title to a property, including judgments, mortgages, lis pendens, etc.
The Property Information Report will provide you with information affecting the property within the past twenty-four months.
Who to Contact About Lien Searches
Property Debt Research understands the title and real estate industry. We know you need accurate information, and you want it quickly. Nowhere in the industry will you find a company that performs your lien searches with a turn-around as fast as we offer. We guarantee you accuracy as we excel in property lien searches.