Lien Searches

A Good Option When You Don't Need to Insure Title

If you want to know if your property or a property you’re considering buying has any title issues, you could request a lien search. This option is faster and cheaper than a full title search, a good option when you don’t need to insure title.

What is a lien search?

As the name implies, a lien search simply is a search for liens — legal notices of unpaid debt — against a property and/or a person from a specific point in time forward.

How is a lien search completed?

A title searcher will look into a property’s address and property index number (P.I.N.), as well as review public records to determine the land’s current owner. All three of those data points are then searched at the County Recorder’s, Treasurer’s, and Assessor’s offices and through several real estate-related websites for any liens against the property or persons in question. The goal of this search is to reveal any mortgages and/or mechanic’s, judgement, municipal, or tax liens that will affect title to the land.

How does a lien search differ from a title search?

A lien search only reports on outstanding liens against a property or person. Once the property’s current owner is identified, the searcher reviews only the items from the date of that owner’s deed forward. A title search, on the other hand, is much more extensive. These searches also review estate proceedings, divorce and foreclosure cases, taxes, easements, rights of way, validity of legal descriptions, and chains of title, among other things. While the standard lookback period is 50 to 75 years, at Hometown Title, Inc., we typically search title 100 years back (unless a prior title policy is provided).

When would a lien search be preferable to a full title search?

Lien searches commonly are requested by lenders refinancing a loan. Attorneys handling a foreclosure matter may also request a lien search or Minutes of Foreclosure. Potential property buyers sometimes request lien searches when they want to know about any issues that could result in additional payments by them. The most important fact to remember is that lien searches are not insured, which is why transactions involving the transfer of title usually include a full title search.