Are you worried that your property may have a lien on it? If you want to check, there is an easy way to do so without paying for a professional title search. It does require a little work on your end and it will take some time, but in the end, you’ll have the answers that you need.
Liens are Public Record
First, you should know that liens are a matter of public record. This means that virtually anybody that wanted to could find out about the liens. It also means that it should be fairly easy for you to find out if you have a lien on your property.
If you are lucky enough to live in a county where the county records are online, you can do this from the comfort of your own home. Simply navigate to the county’s recorder’s website. On the website, there should be a spot to search for a property. If you know your property’s PIN, you’ll have an even easier time searching for the property. If you don’t, simply enter the property address and see what it brings up. Some counties have everything all in one database, while others have you navigate to different screens to get the information that you need.
Going to the Courthouse
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a county that operates online or you can’t find what you need, you may have to venture over to the courthouse. Once you arrive at the Recorder’s office, the clerk should be able to help you locate the documents that you need. Some courthouses have their documents filed digitally, while others still have the old school paper files that you have to sort through to find your documents.
If you do have to go to the courthouse, you may have to pay for copies of the documents. The charge is typically minimal, but it’s good to know ahead of time that you might have to pay.
Using a Title Company
Finally, if you really can’t find the information you need or you just don’t have the time to spend doing it, you can hire a title company. When you closed on your home you probably spent a lot of money on the title work, but that is because you also bought title insurance at that time. This time around, you just need a title search. It shouldn’t be too costly if you need someone to do it for you.
In general, title examiners can be a good resource, especially if you think the lien on your property isn’t legitimate. The examiner can do more in-depth research for you to determine where it came from and how you can go about disputing it.
Why You Should Worry About Liens
If you plan to sell your house in the near future, you’ll have to satisfy the liens on it first. Any buyer with a mortgage will not be able to get financing if the property has a lien on it. Even cash buyers that do their due diligence won’t be willing to buy a home with a lien on it. That’s because liens transfer with the property, not the person. If there’s a lien on the house when a person buys it, the lien becomes their responsibility. That’s the last thing a new homeowner wants to have when they buy a home.
If you’ve satisfied your liens, you should receive a lien release from the entity that placed the lien. It’s important to keep this document in the event that it didn’t get properly recorded with the county. For example, when you do a title search, if you find a lien on your property that you know you satisfied, you can bring in the lien release to the county to have it properly recorded.
It is possible to do your own title search, but sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals. If you have the time and your courthouse makes it easy to access the records, though, it can be done. Just make sure you understand the documents that you find or get professional advice should you not understand them.