If you want to buy a property, be that a residential or commercial property, you have to exert due diligence. You have to know, for instance, whether anything is owed on the property before you start to invest your own money or even make an offer. This is particularly true if you’re looking at ‘seller financing’ or ‘owner carry’.
For a lot of investors, title resources are absolutely invaluable. This allows them to look at the background of a property and to see whether a property lien is listed against it. This will ensure that they don’t get any nasty surprises when they close on the property. Not only will they check for liens, they will also search any other types of encumbrances that could be listed against it. Liens can be attached involuntarily (like judgments and tax liens), or voluntarily. Regardless, they must all be dealt with during the escrow period, and you should never close on a property before they have been resolved.
How to Find Liens
There are plenty of online resources that you can use in order to find information and property data. What these sites give you is a so called ‘preliminary title report’. You can access these almost instantly, which is a great improvement on title companies that sometimes charge around $300 and make you wait three or four weeks.
Some of the things you should look for specifically include:
- The most comprehensive title information and property records you can find in order to look at lien and sale details, ownership, and legal and vesting. This is true for commercial and residential property alike.
- Search for property assets in any states by the name of the property. This will show you first and second mortgages, foreclosure activity, bankruptcies, judgements, and current tax liens.
- Check whether the property is current in a stage of foreclosure and, if so, which one. This can be notice of default, or it can have escalated to pre-foreclosure, auction, or even to bank owned REO. Usually, if it is at that stage, you will be able to find details about where and when the auction took place and the contact details for the trustee and the bank.
- Look at the property values and compare it that in a comparable radius, subdivision, or neighborhood. These are not binding valuations, but they give you a reasonable idea based on MLS (multiple listing service), FSBO (for sale by owner), and other recorded sales.
By making these checks, you will exert due diligence and enable yourself to make offers that are right for the property that you are considering. These online resources do not require you to sign up to a contract, membership, or subscription. Some offer free basic search facilities, and most charge a fee for each search that you complete, but it is much cheaper and quicker than using a lien company. Additionally, the service is available anywhere with an online connection, regardless of the time of day.