We do many title searches every day in our office. In their most basic form, a real estate title search is where we search all pertinent public records to determine what has been publicly filed regarding a piece of real estate. It’s common for us to find some unexpected liens against the property we’re researching.
Usually, an unexpected lien is the seller’s mortgage. These will not interrupt your property purchase because the sale of the house will pay off the lien. However, this is not always the case, so you should never skimp on the title search.
What Should You Do if You Have Unexpected Liens?
It is never fun to surprise a seller with news that there is a lien filed against them, but it is necessary. These liens will need to be released prior to closing on the sale. If not dealt with, you can be left having to deal with the liens yourself as the buyer, or lose out on the sale as the seller. What’s so bad about them is that they can act like unwanted debts.
What do you do if the property you’re hoping to purchase or sell has one or more unexpected liens? First of all, don’t panic. It’s quite possible that the lien is something the seller would not be aware of and will handle it to sell their property. Sometimes the lien may not even be the seller’s, but a clerical mistake that can be fixed.
What if the Lien Isn’t Your Seller’s?
An example could be when a court judgment is issued against someone with a name similar to the seller. These judgments are then recorded and will show up on our title search. For example, if there has been a judgment for $5,000.00 declared against a woman named “Stacy S. Smith” in your county and your name is “Stacy M. Smith,” this will probably show up on our title search because it is possible that this is the same person.
We will simply compare your or the seller’s social security number to the true defendant to clear you or them of that lien with the clerical office. Thankfully, this is often the end of that unexpected lien for a seller.
What if Liens Are Your Seller’s?
If the lien does belong to the seller, there are several routes to solve it. First of all, there is a small possibility that the lien has expired. Depending on the type of lien, it must be renewed or re-recorded every so often to remain valid. If it is not re-recorded in a timely manner, the lien does not apply to your real estate. If it has not expired, you will probably have one of two options:
- Wait for the seller to pay the lien or pay it yourself. We can obtain the payoff for you from the creditor.
- Tressler & Associates attorneys can negotiate the lien on your behalf. Negotiating a lien, especially an old lien, can sometimes decrease the amount you would have to pay for the creditor to release the lien. If the lien is valid, it will need to be released by the creditor before you can close the sale.
No matter what pops up on your title search, we are here to help guide you and make your closing as smooth as possible.
Contact the Title Search Attorneys at Tressler & Associates to Protect Against Unexpected Liens
If you have any questions or concerns about unexpected liens on your property, you need the help of a law firm that can complete a title search. We have the experience and ability to help you close your deal if you are the buyer or seller.
If you have been contacted about a lien on the property you’re looking to buy or sell, you need to act quickly. Contact us today for help.