Does ForeclosureRadar show all liens?

I am a recent subscriber to foreclosure radar service and really like the info provided by this site. I am looking into buying my primary residence at a trustee sale and have narrowed some properties.

My next step is to find any existing liens against the property. From what I read online, I can either pay title companies for a preliminary title search (been quoted $400+) or do the research my self by going to the county recoder’s office. Here are the few questions that I have:

  1. Does recorder’s office “the” source for all outstanding liens against the current owner(s) and the subject property (except the property taxes)? Should any HOA, mechanical, IRS liens, lis pendings, judgments, etc. that affect a title be found at the recorder’s office?
  2. If so, would I find this info under the owner’s name?
  3. For the couple of properties that I have narrowed my search to, I didn’t see any other liens against them in the county recorder’s office. Should I still pay someone to get the Prelim. title report or my research is good enough since the property history seems quite clean.
  4. For owner/properties that may have had any other liens against them, would your site report them under the “transaction history” or not? If not, isn’t the information available to you when you are looking thru the county records while determining loan positions etc.

Thanks very much for your help!

Hi Sam

  1. Yes, almost all liens, judgements, etc. should be recorded at the County Recorders office.
  2. Yes, most recorder offices only support searching by owner name.
  3. Too hard to say, really depends on your risk tolerance. Also note that no search can eliminate all risk… otherwise there would be no need for title insurance.
  4. Our transaction history does not include involuntary liens (judgements, IRS liens, etc), and may not be complete. Also our loan positions are just estimates. For more info be sure you read our disclaimer (at top of transaction history in red).

Hi Sean, Regarding your 3rd response, I can only get the title insurance after I have a property, right? How do I lower my risk before hand? Do title companies standby their preliminary reports? Also, what is the typical amount for a property in SoCal (I have been quoted $400+ by couple of companies)? Thanks, -Sam

We heard that one title company offered title insurance to a auction investor on a trial basis, but it is unlikely you’ll find a title co willing to do it. You should be able to get a prelim for ~300-350 if you shop. You can also hire a professional abstractor to do the search for you, at $60-$100 (do a google search for “abstractor”, or ask around at your county recorder). But, no, neither title co’s or abstractors guarantee their research… again that is the reason for title insurance. These risks are the reason properties sell for a discount at the trustee sale.

Hi Sean, Sorry, I probably is not making not question clear or not fully understanding your response. I now understand that I most likely can’t get title insurance before buying the property and need to get it once I own a property. However, how does the prelim search by a title co. or abstractor different from me going to the recorder’s office and looking for various liens recorded before the foreclosing lien? For the couple of properties that I am interested in, by looking under the name of the owner, I didn’t see anything liens other than their loan history and ND/NTS. I guess I am trying to understand what advantages does a professional bring if we are all looking thru the same database and when the lien history is not complicated. Am I being naive? Thanks again for your patience and detailed responses!

The primary difference a professional brings is simply “time on water”… meaning that as with anything the more time you spend doing something the better you get at it. That said, you’re right, for simple searches there isn’t likely to be much difference. The search performed by a title company is somewhat different, however. Many title companies have a legal description based title plant. This has advantages over the name based grantor / grantee searches you can do at the county, as in theory it should still show documents associated with the property even if they were filed under a different name, or the name was mis-spelled, as the search is based on the properties legal description not the owner name. Even here, however, there isn’t likely to be much difference on your typical search - only on an occasional exception. Bottom line, a professional or title co is less likely to make a mistake, which lowers risk. But nothing except title insurance will eliminate title risk completely.

I’m a newbie here but very interested in learning more. Has anyone created a basic checklist for an investor who is considering buying a property at Auction? Plus where to follow-up on the checklist items

  1. Go see the property (inside and out if possible)
  2. Check neighborhood comps
  3. Do title search
  4. Check for liens
  5. Check for judgements (IRS, etc.)
    etc. etc.

My friend and I were just talking about this specific subject, she actually is normally attempting to prove me completely wrong! I am about to show her this blog post and additionally rub it in a little!

To newbies, here. You will go bankrupt fairly quickly if you order title reports on every property that is published for sale, that you are interested in.
Maybe someone else has run the numbers more accurately, but only a very small percentage of properties that are published for sale actually go to sale - at least on the day (or month or even quarter or ever) scheduled. Of those that go to sale these days, a vast majority goes for what is owed - which these days is far more than the value of the property.

I spent the last 3 days at the “steps” and I have to say I did not see any real deals. In fact properties seem to be selling near to market value. That makes it tough as you can not inspect the property before hand.