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Six Things To Look For in a Municipal Lien Search Vendor
Liens and Unrecorded Debt

Six Things To Look For in a Municipal Lien Search Vendor

Justin Nedell

When it comes to conducting a municipal lien search, a thorough research process, relationships with municipal offices, and experience understanding the nuances of local municipalities are part of producing an excellent report. While conducting a municipal lien search on a property is possible for anyone, small mistakes can result in thousands of dollars in fees related to liens on a property.

Outsourcing the work to a third-party vendor or service provider is an excellent way to avoid any risk because they are dedicated to providing high-quality due diligence services. The results from our State of Title Industry Report indicated that 83 percent of respondents outsource municipal lien searches, ranking as the most outsourced item among many others. 

The expertise, resources, and rapport with local municipalities that these third-party vendors have translate into high-quality results in a timely manner. Avoiding risks, dealing with an unfamiliar market, or simply being too busy to conduct a Municipal Lien Search are all excellent reasons to seek out a third-party vendor. However, there are some key characteristics to look for when considering a provider.

 

Six Considerations in Finding a Provider

 

Experience in the Industry

Just as with many other fields of business, the longer a company does it, the better it will be at providing good quality services. The title industry, by nature, is something that requires years of experience to learn the business, understand the unique relationships, and the nuances of the regulations that affect title agents constantly. Looking for a third-party provider that has had time to understand the uniqueness of the research behind a municipal lien search is critical.

 

“No two cities or counties are the same, and there is a tremendous amount of variation throughout Florida, let alone the nation, when it comes to municipal lien searches.” - Nick Hawkins, Operations Supervisor

 

New markets and local regulations can be challenging to understand as they all operate a little differently. Every market handles its operations uniquely, and those processes can change, too. If you’re assisting transactions in a market foreign to your title company, seeking out a third-party provider can help alleviate the unfamiliarity. 

 

“Not only do you have to have a feel for the area, but you also have to make sure that you are speaking the same language.” - Jelena Kristian, Operations Supervisor

 

Additionally, the terminology for requested items can be unique to each state or municipality. When making a request in a new area, using descriptive language can help alleviate those naming differences. An example of different terminology being used is the Freedom of Information Act being called two separate things – Pennsylvania calls it the Right to Know (RTK) while New Jersey uses the name Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

 

Outstanding Customer Service

No service provider is perfect for due diligence services, just like no real estate transaction is flawless. That’s why customer service goes a long way in meeting deadlines and keeping homebuyers happy. It’s essential to find a third-party vendor that can be trusted to resolve issues quickly.

Even without issues, good customer service from the start should provide quick response times and notifications for the status of a file. Notifying the client of turnaround times, associated fees, and more details right after placing the order alleviates confusion or delays down the road. Then if issues do arise, relationships with local municipal offices can be leveraged to get the job done faster. A good company will do whatever it takes to make sure that the closing deadline is met.

 

A Resource for Information

A strong indicator of a third-party vendor that understands the ever-changing nature of the industry is if it provides information, news highlights, and content surrounding the many services they’re offering.  It’s more than just a webpage with information on their services, content that helps title agents do their job better is something a company should provide.

ALTA is an excellent example of an industry leader for this type of information, but third-party vendors can be great for this type of learning too. Their years of experience will be reflected in that content because they’re growing and learning more about the title industry and real estate industry as a whole, too.

 

For title industry resources, check out PropLogix’s resource center!

 

Good Relationships With Local Municipalities

Building relationships with municipal offices and county recording officers is half the battle with uncovering liens that have yet to be recorded. The phone calls made to these offices are not always perfect conversations and being able to convince a local office to prioritize your requests for information is helpful. 

Third-party vendors often assign dedicated analysts or researchers to a specific area in a state meaning they’re calling the same places and becoming familiar with those offices. Something as simple as remembering someone’s name at an office can go a long way.

Tying back to customer service, developing rapport with county recorders is an included element to that. If an issue comes up, that rapport built could be the difference between a closing date being met or not. It can also ensure a higher level of accuracy in the information provided. They process information for thousands of properties and double checking the information is something that a good relationship will foster.

 

High-Quality Standards

One mistake in the research for a file related to municipal liens can be detrimental to a homebuyer, days or months down the road. Companies that implement processes to ensure quality in their reports are something to look for when considering a third-party vendor. 

An example of this is the Six Sigma Lean Certifications that PropLogix has used for a team specialized in ensuring efficiency and quality in our operations teams. Repetitive processes are a perfect opportunity for efficiency and accuracy to be increased over time and a third-party vendor should be focused on those operational improvements to ensure a high quality product.

 

Closing Software Integrations

Closing software integrations provide convenience and speed when ordering a municipal lien search for any title company. Outsourcing this work is meant to reduce your workload, not add to it, so having the ordering process built into the software your company is using will make for a more seamless process. 

These integrations help keep files organized too because all the details live in one place – no navigating away from where you do your work. Ordering, viewing statuses, and the reports are all found within whatever closing software or title production software being used on your team.

 

Outsourcing title production work can be a great solution for many of the industry challenges currently being faced, but it may not be the right solution for your team. Consider the benefits of outsourcing and if it would work into your daily operations in a seamless way – closing software integrations are just one example of that.

— Related reading: Six Questions a Title Company Owner Should Ask Before Outsourcing

If you’re ready to move forward with outsourcing municipal lien searches or other related title production work, request a personalized quote from us easily. Our dedicated teams are ready to help take the load off your plate so you have time for other important tasks.

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Justin Nedell Content Marketer

Justin Nedell is a full-time Content Marketer for PropLogix and writes blogs, facilitates webinars, and crafts up other digital content for the company. He lives in Austin, Texas, and enjoys traveling near and far, hiking, trail running, snowboarding, and spending time outdoors as much as possible.

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