31 May Doing title search before a Tax Lien Sale
When attending a Tax Lien Sale you are investing your hard earned money in a Lien against a property you don’t own.
You obviously don’t want to do this without checking out the underlying property at least a little bit by doing a quick preliminary title search.
For this do NOT hire a title company to do that for you. I don’t believe in paying money for a service on a property I don’t even know if I will be able to buy the Tax Lien Certificate for.
Therefore the way to do this is to do it YOURSELF.
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Here is how you do it:
- Go to the County Recorder/Clerk (called differently in many counties and states, but basically the county official who keeps records of all property transactions and where all Deeds, Mortgages, Liens… are being recorded). Go to the “Grantor/Grantee index.
Nowadays most Counties have online Services which often include the online Grantor / Grantee Index. The Grantor/Grantee index is the database of all property transactions. GRANTOR means the one that GRANTS (=usually the seller) and GRANTEE means the one that receives (= usually the buyer)
- Once at the Grantor / Grantee Index look for the name of the person owning the property. Note, These Indexes are organized by Book and Page as well as by Name and also often by Legal Description. If you have any of these you can search the index and all documents pertaining to that Name / Legal Description will come up.
- Now you only need to go document by document to look at everything that affects this property. What to look out for:
- IRS Tax Liens
- Environmental Claims.
- Mortgages (if you are aiming to own the property it is quite unlikely that the Bank holding the mortgage will let the property go for taxes and instead will redeem the property prior to the redemption period expiring)
- Do this for all properties you are interested in and you will have a good picture of any hidden problems existing. Of course where there is a problem, cross this property off your list and move on to the next one.
- Once you are used to doing this, any preliminary title search should only take you approx. 5 to 10 minutes per property
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