How to Find out if a Property has a Mortgage Lien?

Buying a new property is a hectic task. Before deciding to buy a property, are you sure that there is no mortgage lien or other legal problems with it?

You could be the victim of paying debts on a property that you aren’t supposed to. If you are not vigilant while buying a property, you may have to pay expensive bills and solve complicated legal issues that will definitely take your time and money.

Once you have bought a property, discovering a property lien will cost you hiring a real estate attorney to get rid of all the mess. If you want to stay away from such frustration, it is better that you run a thorough property lien search.


What is a lien?

It’s a legal claim placed by a person or company on your property because of unpaid debt. It prevents you from selling the property unless you clear all the debt. There could be a voluntary or involuntary lien.

  • A voluntary lien is placed with the agreement of the property owner. It is actually a contract between lender and property-owner that places a lien on the property but does not negatively affect the property or the owner’s right to convey the title. 
  • Residential or Commercial Mortgage is a type of voluntary lien that a debtor accepts voluntarily to exchange funds from a lender for buying a property. The lender places the lien on the property as security. If the debtor is on default in any condition, the lender can seize the property due to the property’s lien.
  • The involuntary type of lien is placed on a property when there are certain unpaid debts, which also affects the owner’s ability to sell the property and convey the title. Typical examples are tax lien, mechanic’s lien, and judgment lien.
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Finding out if a property has a mortgage lien

You can use certain ways to find out if there is a mortgage lien on the property that you choose to buy. Liens are always officially documented in the public records. 

Use online search tools

The first and the easiest option is to do an online search on real estate public records. In most areas, you can get the information through online search tools offered by companies such as U.S. Title Records and CourthouseDirect.

You have to pay a fee to check the assessor’s records or county register of deeds to know the status of the property that you are buying. To get online information about the property, you should know the current property’s owner name and address. In case you are unable to get any information online, try option no 2.

➡ LEARN MORE: How do you find out if there is a lien on your property?

Visit in person

In rural areas, you may have to physically visit the local assessor’s office and request the staff to help you to search for the property. In some cases, you may get all the information by calling the local office; or you may have to visit the county courthouse to check the records.

Get help from a title company

You can also choose to get help from a local title company. If you can pay a few hundred dollars, this option will be more straightforward and trustable.

Title companies are experts at locating the liens, fetching the property records, and documenting the property’s complete history and title. Moreover, you can also get their help on other issues related to property selling and buying.

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Final words

If you think of buying a distressed or foreclosed property, you should do a thorough search to find the lien. For such a property, there are pretty good chances that you will discover a lien; so, always pay attention to the process of finding out the liens.

Always consider the help of a real estate agent, title company, and real estate attorney to be on the safer side.