Want to steer clear of properties with a history of liens? Or maybe just to check and see if there are any property liens you can use as leverage during negotiations? Here’s how to find out if a property has any liens against it, with the search taking less than 5 minutes of your time.

Types of property liens you can find on PropertySharkWhether you’re in the process of buying property, mediating a sale on behalf of your client, or of investing in distressed properties, you’ll need to perform a thorough lien search before moving forward with your closing.

Fortunately, you no longer have to spend valuable time taking trips to your local county recorder, clerk, or assessor’s office — or wait for the creditor to get involved — in order to find out if there are liens on a property of interest. There’s an effortless and time-saving way to see all liens attached to a property, dating as far back as 1985.

What type of liens can you find on PropertyShark?

If you’re performing a title search for a New York property, we can help you find any type of encumbrances:

  • mechanic’s liens – also known as contractor liens
  • mortgage liens – more commonly referred to as lis pendens or pre-foreclosures; we even have a dedicated section for NYC pre-foreclosures, make sure to give it a try
  • tax liens – also available on the West Coast
  • liens for building code violations
  • liens of common charges
  • as well as other less frequent types of liens

Start your property lien search

Your search for liens is now as easy as typing an address into a search bar. Go to PropertyShark’s homepage, and type in the property’s address in the search bar.

We’ll quickly pull out the property report for you; then simply scroll down – or use the ‘Report Sections’ drop-down menu – to reach the Title History section.Find poperty liens

You will then find a dedicated section, intuitively named ‘Liens’, where you can see all liens filed against that property — be it tax liens, mortgage liens, mechanic’s lien, you name it — going back as far as 1985.

Expand each entry by clicking on the little ‘+’ sign, and you’ll get the names of the debtor and creditor, the type of lien and its amount, as well as its expiration date. You will also see the liens’ index number, which can be of great help when trying to determine whether or not two entries with the same debtor are distinct liens.

Property liens, complete with creditor & debtor name, lien type, lien amount
That was easy, wasn’t it? The search itself shouldn’t take more than a minute or so, but we’ve allocated two extra minutes for you to create a PropertyShark account — just in case you didn’t have one already. And since we still have a couple of minutes left, let’s see how you can make the most out of the information you just got.

Why checking for liens is a crucial part of your buying process

  • Saves time and unnecessary hassle
    If there is a lien on a property you’re interested in, that pretty much guarantees creditors will step in before you move forward with your closing. The revenue generated by the sale is typically used to pay off the lien, but things can get complicated if the lien amount exceeds the value of the property. Doing a thorough lien search before getting hyped about a property might just save you (or your client) a great deal of time and unnecessary hassle.
  • You can use them as leverage when negotiating
    Finding out about liens prior to making an offer gives you an advantage heading into negotiations. That’s because it’s a lot easier to negotiate with an owner who is eager to sell the property to pay off a debt.
  • Potential irresponsible owner
    Liens on a property can be a sign that maintenance on the property over the years have not been up to par. Generally speaking, if an owner is struggling financially, or simply financially irresponsible, proper maintenance of the property is often neglected.The same goes for apartment buildings, since liens could also indicate that the building’s management might not have had the funds to properly maintain it.
  • Potential threat to property value
    A bunch of mortgage-related liens can lead to a drop in property values in the surrounding area. One or two in an area likely won’t do any damage, but neighborhoods with large numbers of liens can quickly become distressed areas, leading to lower property prices.

   Note: A slightly different version of this article was first featured in BrickUnderground.

Georgiana Mihaila

Georgiana Mihaila

After spending the first 6 years of her career training in the art of real estate alongside the Yardi team, Georgiana went on to become VP of Marketing for Montreal-based fintech company NestReady, then to run the marketing department behind one of the world’s leading self-dev media companies, Goalcast Inc. She’s now combining her passion for engaging content with a long-lasting addiction to real estate on FancyPantsHomes.com

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