May 30, 2023


When you buy a property, you want to ensure that you have full ownership of it without any legal issues. One essential aspect of the home-buying process is checking for any liens or encumbrances on the property. A lien is a legal claim placed on a property as security for a debt, while an encumbrance is any legal right to use the property held by a third party.

These can hinder your ownership of the property and cause problems down the line. Therefore, it’s crucial to check for liens or encumbrances before closing the sale transaction. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of looking for liens or encumbrances on the property and how you can go about it.

Types of Encumbrances

Types of Encumbrances refer to the various types of limitations, restrictions, or burdens that might affect a property on behalf of a third party. These encumbrances could make it difficult to obtain clear title and can even result in the loss of the property.

Some of the most common types of encumbrances include easements, restrictive covenants, and mortgages. Easements are a right granted to a third party to use a portion of the property, such as an individual who is granted permission to use a portion of the land to access a public roadway.

Restrictive covenants are limitations that are imposed upon the use of a property, such as zoning restrictions or regulations within a homeowner’s association. Mortgages affect the title to the property and may restrict its transfer until the mortgage debt has been satisfied. It’s important to check for any encumbrances on a property to avoid any surprises that may impact the value or transferability of the property. This information is particularly important for anyone considering purchasing or selling a property.

Liens or Encumbrances FAQs

What is the meaning of liens and encumbrances on a property?

Liens and encumbrances refer to any claims, rights, or restrictions placed on a property by creditors or other parties. These can include mortgages, unpaid taxes, mechanics’ liens, easements, and covenants.

How do I check for liens and encumbrances on a property?

You can search for liens and encumbrances through public records at your county recorder or clerk’s office. You can also hire a title company or a property attorney to conduct a title search and provide a report.

What is a title search, and why is it important?

A title search is a comprehensive investigation of public records to determine the legal ownership of a property and any liens or encumbrances against it. A title search is essential to ensure that the seller has the right to sell, and the buyer can obtain clear and marketable title.

What should I do if I find liens or encumbrances on a property?

If you discover liens or encumbrances on a property, you should consult with a property attorney to determine your options. Depending on the nature and severity of the liens, you may need to negotiate with the creditors or seek legal remedies to remove them.

What is title insurance, and why do I need it?

Title insurance is a policy that protects the buyer and the lender against any losses from defects in the title, including liens and encumbrances that were not discovered during the title search. It is essential to have title insurance to safeguard your investment and ensure that you have legal ownership of the property.

What is a lien waiver, and why is it necessary?

A lien waiver is a legal document signed by the contractor or supplier who has worked on a property, releasing any claims or liens against the property. It is necessary to obtain a lien waiver to ensure that there are no outstanding debts or claims against the property that could later threaten your ownership.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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