How to Find Out if There Are Any Liens on a Property

How to Find Out if There Are Any Liens on a Property

When buying a property, it is essential to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure there are no hidden surprises, such as liens on the property. A lien is a legal claim against a property that can be filed by creditors, contractors, or the government due to unpaid debts. It is crucial to determine if there are any existing liens on a property to avoid potential financial and legal complications. Here are some steps to help you find out if there are any liens on a property:

1. Begin with a title search: A title search is a detailed examination of public records to determine the property’s history, including any liens or encumbrances. You can hire a title company or a real estate attorney specialized in this area to conduct the search.

2. Check county records: Visit the county recorder’s office or search their online database to access public records. Look for any recorded liens against the property or the property owner’s name.

3. Review tax records: Contact the local tax assessor’s office to check if there are any outstanding property tax liens. Unpaid property taxes can result in a lien on the property.

4. Research court records: Check the county’s courthouse records for any lawsuits, judgments, or foreclosure proceedings involving the property. These records can reveal if there are any liens against the property.

5. Contact utility companies: Some utility companies may place a lien on a property if there are unpaid bills. Reach out to the utility providers to inquire about any outstanding debts.

6. Consult with a real estate attorney: If you are unsure how to conduct a thorough search or need assistance interpreting the findings, seek advice from a real estate attorney.

7. Consider a title insurance policy: Title insurance protects against any undiscovered liens or title defects. It is wise to purchase title insurance during the property buying process to safeguard your investment.

8. Obtain a lien release or payoff statement: If you discover that there are indeed liens on the property, request a lien release or payoff statement from the lienholder. This document confirms that the lien has been satisfied and will be removed upon payment.


1. Can liens be removed?
Yes, liens can be removed once the debt or obligation has been satisfied or resolved.

2. What happens if I buy a property with a lien?
If you purchase a property with an existing lien, you may become responsible for clearing the debt or resolving the lien.

3. Can liens affect the property’s value?
Yes, liens can negatively impact a property’s value and make it more challenging to sell or refinance.

4. Can liens be negotiated or settled?
In some cases, lienholders may be willing to negotiate or settle the debt for a reduced amount. However, this will depend on the circumstances and the lienholder’s willingness to cooperate.

5. How long do liens stay on a property?
Liens can typically remain on a property until the debt is paid or resolved. However, laws regarding lien expiration can vary by jurisdiction.

6. Can a lienholder foreclose on a property?
If the lienholder is not paid or the debt remains unresolved, they may have the right to foreclose on the property to satisfy the debt.

7. Are all liens recorded in public records?
Most liens are recorded in public records to provide notice to potential buyers or creditors. However, some liens may not be recorded, such as verbal agreements or private loans.

8. Can I buy title insurance after discovering a lien?
Yes, you can still purchase title insurance after discovering a lien. However, the policy may contain exceptions or exclusions related to the existing lien.

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