So you’re finally considering purchasing a property. Congratulations! But before you jump into signing on the dotted line, it’s essential to do your due diligence and ensure that the property you’re interested in doesn’t have any outstanding liens against it.
How will you know whether there are hidden charges and liens related to the property or whether the property has unresolved violations? The answer lies in performing both title and municipal lien searches.
It’s not uncommon for homebuyers to confuse a municipal lien search with a title search or substitute one for the other. Both searches will provide you with important information about the property, but they focus on different aspects. Here is a brief explanation of the difference between the two types of searches.
What is a Title Search?
A title search is conducted to establish a property’s legal ownership and uncover any claims or encumbrances on the property. An encumbrance is anything that affects or limits the title owner’s rights to use and enjoy the property. The purpose of a title search is to:
- Reveal the chain of ownership for the property
- Uncover any easements, rights of way, or other claims against the property
- Verify that the seller is the rightful owner of the property and has the legal right to sell it
- Identify any errors or omissions in public records
In other words, a title search focuses on the history of the property and the seller’s rightful ownership of the property.
What is a Municipal Lien Search?
A municipal lien search probes further into a property’s details to offer a more comprehensive account of its history. This search helps in locating all unrecorded issues related to the property. These are usually issues that a typical title search would miss.
A municipal lien search will uncover longstanding code violations, building permit issues, outstanding property taxes, and unpaid utility bills. A municipal lien search aims to ensure that the property seller has no unpaid bills or debts related to the property that have not yet been recorded in the public records. If there are any, they must handle them before the property can change hands.
Why You Need Both Title and Municipal Lien Searches
A title search will give you a general overview of the property’s ownership history and any claims against it. But to get a complete picture of what you’re getting yourself into, you’ll also need to conduct a municipal lien search.
In most cases, a county clerk doesn’t have all the details about the debts related to a property or its owner. This means the liens will not show up when you focus on a simple title search. Performing both searches will give you a complete understanding of the property’s past and present so that you can make an informed decision about whether to purchase it.
If you ignore a municipal lien search, you could be held responsible for the seller’s unpaid debts, which could end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Complete the Municipal Lien Search Faster With Real Res
When purchasing a property, due diligence is vital in helping you avoid any unwanted surprises. That’s why you should order both a title search and a municipal lien search.
Are you a real estate professional looking for help with your municipal lien search in Florida? Real Res will help you with the process to ensure there are no unrecorded property issues before you close the deal. Contact us today to get the help you need to complete real estate transactions faster.
We also offer HOA estoppel letters for properties located within a Homeowner’s or Condo Association.