How to Find if a Property Has a Lien

How to Find if a Property Has a Lien

Buying a property is a significant investment, and it is crucial to ensure that the property is free from any liens. A lien is a legal claim on a property to secure the payment of a debt or obligation. If a lien exists on a property you are interested in purchasing, it could potentially cause complications and financial burdens in the future. To avoid such issues, it is essential to know how to find if a property has a lien. Here are some steps to help you in your quest:

1. Start with the county clerk’s office: Begin your search by visiting the county clerk’s office where the property is located. They keep records of all property transactions, including liens. You can request a title search or property records to find out if there are any outstanding liens.

2. Online public records: Many counties have online databases that allow you to search for property information, including liens. Visit the county’s website and search for the property using the owner’s name or address. Look for any recorded liens on the property.

3. Hire a title company: If you want a comprehensive search, consider hiring a title company. Title companies specialize in reviewing property records and can provide you with a detailed report on any liens or encumbrances on the property.

4. Check with the IRS: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also places liens on properties for unpaid taxes. You can check the IRS website or contact their local office to inquire about any potential tax liens on a property.

5. Go through court records: Liens can also be filed through court proceedings. Check the local courthouse for any lawsuits or judgments that may have resulted in a lien on the property.

6. Consult with a real estate attorney: If you are unsure about the process or want expert advice, consult with a real estate attorney. They can guide you through the process and ensure that you have all the necessary information before making a purchase.

7. Engage a title insurance company: When purchasing a property, it is wise to obtain title insurance. Title insurance protects you against any hidden liens or defects in the property’s title. The title insurance company will conduct a thorough search and provide you with a policy that covers any potential issues.

8. Obtain a property report: Various online services offer property reports that include information about liens, mortgages, and other encumbrances. These reports can be obtained for a fee and can provide valuable insights into the property’s history.


1. What is a lien?
A lien is a legal claim on a property to secure the payment of a debt or obligation.

2. Can liens be removed?
Yes, liens can be removed by paying off the debt or resolving the obligation.

3. How long do liens last?
The duration of a lien depends on the type and jurisdiction. Some liens may last for several years, while others can be indefinite.

4. Can liens affect property value?
Yes, liens can impact property value as they make it less marketable and can complicate the selling process.

5. Can liens be negotiated or settled?
In some cases, liens can be negotiated or settled with the creditor. However, it is advisable to seek professional assistance in such matters.

6. What happens if a lien is missed during a property purchase?
If a lien is missed during a property purchase, the new owner may become responsible for the debt secured by the lien.

7. Do liens take priority over mortgages?
The priority of liens and mortgages depends on the recording date. Generally, liens filed before the mortgage take priority.

8. Is title insurance necessary?
Title insurance is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended to protect against any hidden liens or defects in the property’s title.

In conclusion, conducting a thorough search for liens on a property is crucial before making a purchase. By following these steps and seeking professional assistance, you can ensure a smooth and secure transaction.