It makes no difference whether you intend to purchase a home through conventional channels or bid on a foreclosed property at auction, it’s up to you or your representative to perform a thorough check of local municipal records for outstanding liens on the property.
What is a lien?
A lien is any legal claim upon a property that reveals either a debt or a non-monetary interest in the property. Liens are typically recorded with the clerk of the county in which the property is located.
Which liens should I look for?
Below are some types of liens you should watch out for when buying a foreclosure.
Easements – Utility companies frequently hold easement rights through a property (right to access another person’s land) for utility line construction and future access for maintenance purposes. Utility easements generally do not go away when the property is sold. A property owner may also grant an easement to a third party for access through his land. This type of easement usually expires when the property is sold.
Judgments – This is a court order formalizing the amount of a property owner’s unpaid debt to a lender or a service provider, together with interest, legal fees and court costs. Judgments are typically recorded with the clerk of the county in which the debtor’s property is located to ensure payment from the proceeds when the property is sold. The current property owner is responsible for payment of the judgment before transferring title. In some states, an unpaid judgment lien may be wiped out by a foreclosure action.
Mortgages – The current property owner most likely took out a mortgage loan when he purchased the property. In some cases, the owner may also have taken out second or third mortgages on his property, known as "junior liens." Typically, property sellers pay outstanding mortgage balances from sale proceeds, thus removing the mortgage lien(s).
Real Property Taxes – Real property taxes are always a lien on real property whether or not they show up in a title search. Municipalities have the right to foreclose for nonpayment of real property taxes. You should always confirm with local taxing authorities and property assessors whether current taxes have been paid for a property you wish to purchase. The current property owner is responsible for payment of taxes incurred during the time that he owns the property. However, unpaid taxes remain a lien on the property regardless of who is on the title. If you want to avoid tax foreclosure, you must pay ALL outstanding real property taxes when taking ownership.
Unpaid Federal and State Income Taxes – Governments have the right to file liens against real property for unpaid income taxes. The current property owner should pay off these liens before transferring title. This is by no means an exhaustive list. You should always consult with a real estate agent and/or foreclosure specialist for guidance and always obtain a title search when purchasing real property to avoid unnecessary risks to you when you assume ownership of a piece of property.
Roman Lopez is the owner of The Roman Lopez Real Estate Team, a full service real estate company specializing in Greater Austin home sales, purchases, and investments properties.
Roman has worked and excelled in the real estate business in Austin, TX for the last 7 years. Roman's real estate career started in 2008 where he was named Rookie of the Year for the KB Home Central Texas Division.
After a successful career with KB Home, Roman obtained his real estate licence and joined Keller Williams Realty where he again rose to the top and won Rookie of the Year for Keller Williams Austin.
After a year as a solo agent he built a team of top producing agent, The Roman Lopez Real Estate Team. His team now ranks as one of Keller Williams top teams closing over 200+ residential sales transactions per year.
Roman's designations include: Certified Negotiation Expert, Certified Distressed Property Expert, Certified International Property Expert, Certified International Property Expert, and Global Property Specialist.
Roman's Awards: Keller Williams Austin Rookie of the Year 2011, 2008 KB Home Rookie of the Year Central Texas Division, 2015 Platinum Top 50 Winner, Platinum Top 50 Finalist, 2014 NAHREP Top 250 Latino Agent in the US, 2014 NAHREP Top 20 Latino Agent in Austin, 32015 NAHREP Top 250 Latino Agent in the US, 2015 NAHREP Top 20 Latino Agent in Austin, 2015 Best of Angie's List, 2015 Real Trends Best Real Estate Agents, 2014 Best of Trulia Best Real Estate Agents
If it's your first time buying or selling real estate, you don't know
"We recently bought and sold a home with the Roman Lopez Real Estate Team and the experience was exceptional. I can’t say enough about the level of customer service that was provided during our process. With such a busy business the Roman Lopez team made us feel like we were their priority. Our emails and texts were always promptly answered and no request for information was too big or too small.
Clarissa Lupton patiently helped us find a home to purchase that met our needs. She searched high and low for a wonderful selection and negotiated a phenomenal purchase price.
Roman Lopez sold our home within two weeks. He placed a coming soon sign in our yard and worked with his network of realtors. Our home was sold before it was even listed. We expressed how important it was for us to get our home sold ASAP and Roman worked hard to make it happen.
We highly recommend the Roman Lopez team for your real estate needs. We will definitely use them in the future should the need arise.
The information being provided is for consumers' personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.
Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS®. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided "AS IS" and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.
IDX data last updated January 21, 2018 5:35 AM
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