A municipal lien search looks for unrecorded property issues that a traditional title search won’t uncover. This includes unpaid utility bills, code violations, special assessments, property taxes, and open or expired permits. These municipal issues aren’t in the public record but still pose a problem as new owners may be held liable for these debts and issues.
A municipal lien search is a vital piece of information to obtain before closing for full real estate due diligence. This search ensures that home buyers and real estate investors won't end up with unexpected debt, costing thousands or in some cases even millions of dollars.
A title search will only show what is in the public record of the county. Typically, most municipalities will eventually record debt associated with a building code violation or unpaid utility bills, but there is a time delay between sending notifications to the current owner and filing the lien. Sometimes, a buyer may get caught in this "gap" period where debt is racking up on the property. Unless the proper requests are made to all governing bodies before closing, these issues will remain hidden from the buyer.
Other issues, like open and expired permits, aren't typically recorded in the public record, so the only way to find any outstanding fees or potential remodeling issues associated with the property is to contact the building department directly and make the request for this information.
Buyers should be aware that this type of search is not part of the title search, and although an owner's title insurance will protect against any claims to their ownership of the property or missed recorded liens, it doesn't usually extend to unrecorded debts.
Our municipal lien search reports provide the following:
We want to save you time and eliminate risk by becoming your national due diligence partner. In many states, a clear title isn’t always so clear thanks to unrecorded property debt held by the municipality. That's why you want a municipal lien search because you're smart and always go above and beyond. Ready to be impressed?