When you're ready to sell your home, you'll need to take care of any liens that were put against it. A lien is a claim on your property issued by someone who says you are in debt to them. The lien may have been issued by the government for nonpayment of taxes, the mortgage company for nonpayment of the mortgage or a mechanic for nonpayment of a service. If you are unsure as to whether the property has a lien on it, you can do a search to find out.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
You can have a title company do a title search, look for yourself online or research public records to find out if there's a lien on your home.
Obtain a Title Report
Contact a title company in your area and ask an agent to prepare a title report for you. The agent will require a fee for this service. Although the fee for the title search varies, you can expect it to come in around $75 to $100. For the cost, you'll have peace of mind, as the search will bring to light any liens against the property, as well as any outstanding lawsuits that are connected to the home.
Conduct an Online Search
Another option to check if there is a lien against your home is to conduct an online search. Sites like SearchQ and PropertyShark will prepare a report on the address in question within minutes. Some of the sites allow for a free search, while others charge a fee, so always read the fine print before you register and request a report. The good news is that the reports will include detailed information about the home, including whether there are any liens.
Check Public Records
Lien records are open to the public, which means you can search for them yourself. There are two ways to do this. First, you can visit your county's website and look for either the county clerk, county recorder or county assessor’s office. Click the link and see if there is a public records search tool.
To run a search, you can enter the property owner's name (your name if you hold the title) or the physical address of the home. Review the results to see if there are any liens.
Some counties do not have online search boxes for their public records. If this is the case where you live, you can check out the office hours of the county clerk, recorder or assessor's office and then head down there in person. An employee will help you conduct the search so that you get a definitive answer as to whether the home has any liens against it or not.
- BiggerPockets: Property Lien Search: How to Find Out About a Lien on a House
- Wealth Pilgrim: How to Discover If There Is a Lien on Your House
- Courthouse Direct: Using Public Records to Find Lien Information
- FinancialWeb: How Much Do Title Search Companies Typically Cost?
- PropertyShark: Property Title Search
Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance. With more than 13 years of experience, her work has appeared in LendingTree, GoBankingRates, Sapling, Zacks and Pocket Sense.