Due diligence is paramount when buying a new home or commercial property. In Florida, liens often present unique challenges and risks for potential property buyers. No one wants to buy a brand new property only to discover they need to pay extra to settle the previous owners’ unresolved debts!
Keep reading to get some essential tips for effectively conducting online lien searches in Florida.
The Variety of Liens in Florida
Florida’s real estate landscape involves a wide array of liens, ranging from voluntary ones like mortgages to involuntary liens tied to specific jurisdictions, organizations, or related parties. Let’s take a closer look at some types of liens in Florida:
- Real estate property taxes
- IRS back taxes
- Mechanic’s liens (e.g. construction work)
- Code enforcement violations
- Open and expired permits
- Special assessments
- Municipal charges (e.g., water, sewer, solid waste)
- County debts
- Building violations
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the measures that you can take to protect your future investment.
Know Where to Start
Begin your online lien search by familiarizing yourself with the appropriate county clerk’s website or the official website of the Florida Department of State. These portals serve as valuable resources that house a plethora of property-related information, including liens.
Gather Key Information
Before diving into the online search, ensure you have essential details on hand, such as the property’s address or owner’s name.
Interpret the Results
Once you’ve obtained the search results, it’s crucial to pay close attention to the details of any liens found, including the lienholder’s name, the date of filing, and the nature of the lien (e.g., tax lien or mechanic’s lien).
Consider Professional Help
Unlike many other states, Florida attaches many unrecorded liens, fees, and permit violations to the property itself rather than the individual. This distinction is crucial because it mandates that nearly all real estate transactions in the state involve a municipal lien search as part of the closing process. This is especially significant if you are planning to buy a property through a foreclosure or short sale, as these transactions can carry hidden financial burdens that may not be immediately apparent.
A municipal lien search goes beyond identifying recorded liens. It encompasses unrecorded liens, code violations, special assessments, utility issues, and open or expired permits associated with residential and commercial real estate. This process is indispensable as it uncovers undisclosed fees, costs, or issues that might impact you post-closing.
Failing to detect these concerns through a municipal lien search could result in you assuming responsibility for outstanding fees or undertaking efforts to bring the property into compliance, a task that can prove time-consuming and costly.
Buying a new property is a significant investment, and you shouldn’t leave anything to chance. At Florida Lien Search, we are here to walk with you through a variety of lien searches, including municipal lien searches, to make sure no outstanding debts go unnoticed. Contact us today for a consultation!