Checking your deed for liens isn’t always straightforward

Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

Q: In one of your recent columns, a widow asked about getting the deed to her house after her husband died. You told him to check his deed from time to time to make sure no liens had been added to it. How do we do that ? Can we do it online or do we have to go to a municipal office? Thank you.

A: Good question. Much of our financial life is available online. You can view your bank accounts (or download your bank’s app), trade stocks, or get your credit history and score. But managing your personal financial hygiene isn’t always straightforward, and being able to access the details of your financial life is different from understanding what it all means.

For example, you can access your credit history from a variety of places: AnnualCreditReport.com or directly from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and Transunion), or even through a company like Credit Karma.

However, deciphering this information can be difficult. Just seeing negative information, like a bill you paid late, is different from understanding what it says about your creditworthiness to current and potential creditors via your credit score.

In short, it’s relatively easy to check your credit and difficult to understand how your credit history might affect your financial life.

Checking the status of your title — and understanding what you’re watching — is even harder. Online property registration websites are hard to discern at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to skim through the paperwork and make sure your title is in good shape.

Although you can always go to the courthouse or local government office for title information, online property registration websites usually display almost all the information a real estate professional needs. know about the title of a house from the time the website registers the ownership records. for the house until today.

We hope you are lucky enough to live in an area where the local office that handles the filing and registration of real estate documents has a free online portal where you can view documents that affect the title to your home. .

If so, and you have access to the website online, you will likely need your Property Identification Number or another identification number that the municipality uses for your property in order to view the records. of your property. You enter this number into the site, and the site should display a list of documents that affect this property number.

The list should include deeds transferring ownership from a seller to a buyer, government orders which may be specific to your home, registered mortgages, registered releases of mortgages, other liens and other lien releases, registered utility easements, registered covenants, registered subdivision flats, and so on.

You should look at the list from today’s date and back in time. Some property records have hundreds of items listed, including all liens that have been filed and released (from contractors or the IRS, for example). You’ll also see the deed of your sellers, and their sellers, up to the first deed recorded (depending on where you live and the status of online property records).

You are looking for a document that was saved recently or since you bought the house. Sometimes, when you’ve lived in the same place for many years, you’ll see a notification for every mortgage you’ve taken out on the house. But you should also see the receipt for every mortgage you’ve paid off over the years.

For each mortgage you have taken out and paid off, you should see a registered mortgage and a corresponding mortgage release.

So the key then is to see if there is anything else listed on the title deed since you bought the house. If there is nothing, then you are ready. But if you see something that shows you’re selling the house when you don’t have one or a mortgage or lien that you can’t identify, that could be a problem. We warn you that lenders sometimes assign their mortgage interest to another lender, so this is not necessarily a problem for you.

We’re glad you asked this question, because given what’s going on in the world of identity theft and digital personal financial fraud these days, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for what you own and the accounts you have from time to time.

If your local registry office does not have online property records and you still want to review the documents, call the office that maintains local land depot records to find out if you need to take meet or if you can just walk. You should also ask them what their document viewing requirements are (you may need to bring proof of ownership, such as a tax invoice and valid ID).

Contact Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin through their website, BestMoneyMoves.com.