How do I Perform a Property Lien Search?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Conducting a property lien search generally requires you to start out with some basic information. You will typically need at least the exact address of the property, though the owner’s name and the property’s parcel number, which is a unique numerical identifier, may prove helpful as well. Once you have this basic information at hand, you can usually search for property liens by visiting a county courthouse, an assessor’s office, or the office of the county recorder or clerk. In some places, you can even perform your lien search online or by phone.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

One of the most important steps you can take when you want to do a property lien search involves the address of the property you want to search. It is very easy to make a mistake in the address and waste time and effort searching for liens against the wrong property. You may do well to double-check the number of the property, the proper spelling of the street, and any directional indicators, such as north or south, before you get started with a property lien search.

Typically, you can start a property lien search with just an address, and in some places, you may begin with just the name of the property owner as well. Having the parcel number of the property you are searching may help as well. A real estate agent may be able to provide a parcel number for you based on the address you provide.

In most cases, you can perform a property lien search by visiting the county courthouse in the area in which the property is located. Depending on where you are searching, however, these records may be accessible through a county recorder, clerk, or local assessor's office instead. You may also find that property lien records are available through an entirely different entity in your area. To learn where to begin your search, you may do well to call a local or county government office and ask the representative who answers to point you in the right direction.

Many jurisdictions make it easy to search property liens online and allow you to save time you might have spent traveling to a physical location. You may learn whether this is an option in your jurisdiction by checking a regional, county, or local government website. There are even some jurisdictions that allow people to conduct property lien searches by phone. Often, a toll-free number is provided for this purpose.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


Be careful about those online records. In some jurisdictions they are not complete. If you can search records online, make sure you call the county courthouse and see if they are complete or not.


Some more handy knowledge to have is how long a particular lien is good for in your state. There is generally a statute of limitations involved. You can't just file a lien and have it last forever in most cases.

Why is that good information to have? The records on a particular piece of property can go back to when your state was established or even earlier. You don't want to go back that far, do you? Just find out how long the lien in question is good for and search back that far. If no liens pop up, the chances are good one can't attach to the property.

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