How and Where do I find Liens or Emcumb. on a title?

I’m looking at a few properties that are going to be auctioned off. The warning is that the new owner assumes all responsibilities, such as any past debts on the property.

How do I find the liens or encumbrances on any title of property?


Talk to your local title company. They’re the experts when it comes to that kind of thing and that’s what they are there for. Otherwise do a title search at your local county courthouse.

RE: Otherwise do a title search at your local county courthouse.

Is this a freeby?
Are you talking about the PC kiosk at Assessors office?


Thanks Redtigress,

I think you mean I can do a title search (maybe free) at the County Recorder’s office. Right?


Doing your own title search is free. Knowing how to do it could cost you a little but it’s worth it. I do my own title searches because I’ve learned that title companies make about a 2% error on searches. I just don’t want to be one of those 2%.

Thanks Kawika_CA,

RE: Knowing how to do it could cost you a little but it’s worth it.

Where and how do I learn this?

You can ask the people at the courthouse or county recorders, depending on where they keep their records. But they can generally only tell you how to use the machines, file system and basic information on the documents.

You could hook-up with someone who does it freelance or for a title company. Sometimes you see them at the courthouse/recorders and can ask them if they do any freelance searches (money on the side) or teach you for a fee. You could find them by hanging out or advertising.

Another way is to purchase or get for free a title report showing all the documents and liens and sort of reverse-engineer it.

I learned as part of a bigger foreclosure training and he doesn’t teach it seperately. The only thing I’ve found that is close is an online title abstractor course which you can find by searching for that term on google.

I hope that helps.

Thanks for the information. I’m new at this and all information is helpful at this point. I’m trying to identify a property and personally fund or joint venture my first transaction. I’m also trying to avoid any pitfalls. Have you been involved and completed any preforeclosures? I’d like to get some tips.


I think I m pretty confused by these replies.Here in Phoenix Az, it is possible to go the County Recorder’s website and find a persons activites regarding all their goings on. Any kind of lien,affidavits,notices,deeds,tax liens, ad infinitum.Lis pendens etc.Anything missing do you think that could show up on title search NOT recorded at County Recorder?

I’m right in the same situation. I’m new and I am considering some properties going to sheriffs sale. I’ve been over at our courthouse a lot this week. Our register of deeds has a small room with about 4 computers that are tied in with the county system. Our register of deeds is really nice and I know him from way back. He sat down with me and gave me a nice overview of how to navigate through the system. This was great, but the hard part is still understanding all the information - which leaves this sinking feeling as to whether you’ve found all you should have found. I need those classes…

Sorry about my lack of a response somehow I wasn’t being notified of updates to this thread. Thanks Kawiki for stepping up and answering the ?'s.

Thanks for all who have replied.

I did see the website for the abstractor course, it didn’t seem very substantial and I recall it cost about $99 for the online course or DVDs.

I called my local library to ask the ref. librarian if there were any materials on this subject and of course they have to look for it and call back. Any of you can do the same.

I’ll be going over to the Recorders office and hope to learn more from them.

One site I saw has services to do title searches, for a fee, but the area they advertised to find information for you seemed a bit hazy.

For a fee they can find out if the property in consideration has any problems like being used or having toxics buried underground. That got me worried. I don’t want to buy a problem like that. In fact I wouldn’t buy property adjacent to a junk yard, due to seepage of chemicals.

My question is how does this company have access to information like this? Does the government somehow get involved with inspections? Say EPA for starters? And is this just a California concern?

I guest this is more probable of having toxics or tanks of stuff buried underground that you may inherit the burden of getting rid of with commercial properties than residential. Is that a correct assumption?

I know of one related problem on a residential property. The land was inspected before building of a 12 u condo in 1986. Even though a large concrete subterranean parking structure was built over the ant hills, It turns out the two large ant colonies comes out and swarms of ants come into units at differing times in the year. The HOA had to account for this and got a contract with the local exterminator as an ongoing maintenance measure. Anytime one unit calls the company to spray chemicals in their place the ants show up at another unit. This problem has existed ever since '86. ugh.