How to Check Whether a Property You Want to Buy Has a Lien Attached to It
If you are considering buying a piece of real estate, there are many things that you have to look into first. Visiting the property and sorting out your finances are just two of those things. But you also have to make sure that you check whether a property lien has been entered on the building. The seller is unlikely to tell you if a lien has been registered, which is why you need to do some independent research first. After all, you don’t want to end up buying a property and adding someone else’s debt to your own on top of it. This is because, once the property becomes yours, the lien will become yours as well. And this also means that the lender can force you to sell so that the debt is paid off.
Liens tend to be available through public records. There are three main ways in which you can check whether one is listed against the property you are interested in.
- Use the Internet
Almost everything is now available online, and if you’re looking for information, this is a good place to start. Government websites will usually list any lien information that they have available. Hence, try to find the website for your county’s clerk, recorder, or assessor and see what you can find there. These details are not private, as you should be able to find the information using just the address of the property, not the owner’s name.
- Visit Local Government Offices
Your county may not (yet) have all the necessary data on an online system. In that case, you will have to make an in person visit to your assessor, clerk, or recorder. You may have to make an appointment for this, however, so do look into that. One of the benefits of speaking to someone in person is that they may also be able to advise you on other things you need to know about the property, and what you can do about it.
- Use Title Companies
Title companies are companies that specialize in looking up mechanic’s liens, property liens, and other such details. They will search all the public records that exist and will also run verifications on whoever owns the land. Furthermore, they will see whether any back taxes are owed on the property. Naturally, you will have to pay a title company to do this. However, it means you don’t have to do any of the work yourself, and you will be guaranteed that the search will have been thorough.
It is very important, regardless of how you research a property, that you have all the correct basic information available. A simple spelling mistake in the name of the street, or missing out a house number can mean that you end up with information on a totally different property.
If you do find that a lien is registered against the property you are interested in, you need to seek financial and legal help with this.