When researching any property's title information, always make certain that you check the official public records in the county where the property's deed is recorded to verify that all recorded liens placed against the property's title have been uncovered. The functions of county government offices vary from state-to-state, so contact your county government to find out which offices maintain records on real property and judgment liens. The following is a listing of where to look when searching the public records for liens that are attached to the titles of real property:
1. County recorder or prothonotary's office: Check the grantor and grantee or mortgagor and mortgagee indexes, federal tax lien index, public assistance liens, conditional sales contracts such as contracts for deed, agreements for deed and land sales contracts, notices of lis pendens index, writs of attachment, judgment liens such as mechanic's and materialmen's liens, and property tax liens.
2. Clerk of the county and circuit court: Check the defendant's judgment index, state income tax liens, state inheritance tax liens, state franchise tax liens, judgment liens, homeowners' association liens, suits to quiet title, suits for specific performance, estates of deceased persons, guardianships of minors and incompetents, termination of life estates, termination of joint tenancies, and condemnation of lands.
3. United States Court: Check for federal judgments such as federal tax liens and judgment liens resulting from defaults on government-guaranteed FHA, Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), Small Business Administration (SBA), and student loans.
4. Municipal clerk's records: Check for liens resulting from unpaid bills for municipal services such as water and sewer services and code enforcement fines.
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