Digging Deeper – How to Find Undisclosed Property Liens

An undisclosed property lien can stop a real estate deal in its tracks. In the best-case scenario, it delays the closing — which means lost time and resources for you — but in the worst-case scenario the whole deal could disappear.

It is in your best interest to know about all property liens as soon as possible. However, clients may not disclose them for various reasons, including:

  • They don’t know about the lien — for instance, if there are multiple people on title, if it was brought into the relationship from a new marriage, if the property was inherited, etc.
  • They forgot about the lien.
  • They didn’t realize something was a lien or could impact the deal.
  • They thought the lien had been removed, but it was not.
  • They are hoping it will be missed and passed on to the new property owner.

There are some common indicators that there could be a lien – for example, if the person is self-employed, the person has multiple mortgages registered on their GeoWarehouse report, the seller inherited the property, or you just have a good old-fashioned feeling.

Truthfully, though, checking for liens — disclosed or not — is good due diligence in any circumstance.

In the same way you might run a credit check on your client, you can also dig deeper and run a credit check on the property through a Parcel Register.*

A Parcel Register* is located in the GeoWarehouse Store. It’s a powerful tool that is worth leveraging when your payment will depend on available home equity.

That power is because it is the most current, up-to-the-moment data and will indicate anything registered against the property — including liens!

If you do uncover a lien and you want to gain even more insight, like contact information for the registrant, you can go further and request an Instrument Image* inside the GeoWarehouse Store. This allows you to pull the actual lien registration document.

According to The Washington Post, undisclosed property liens or other encumbrances can take days, or even weeks, to resolve the problem. It can cause particular issues when you need a co-owner’s signature, but they live overseas, for example.

The Post also reported that title companies in more than one-third of all real estate transactions say they must undertake “extraordinary work” to address title issues.

Digging deeper into the properties you take on as soon as possible is not only good due diligence — it could save your deal.

GeoWarehouse’s Parcel Registers* are easy to access, up-to-date, and accurate. Uncover all disclosed and undisclosed liens today.

Get yours at the GeoWarehouse Store: https://www2.geowarehouse.ca/login-page/.

Not a GeoWarehouse subscriber? Become one today. Call 1-866-237-5937 or visit www.geowarehouse.ca.

* An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.