What is a Lien Sheet
When buying or selling a property a title company will do a Title Search. These companies do much more than just check the land records to confirm who the owner is. They must check for Mortgages, judgments against the seller, bankruptcies, and make sure all taxes are paid up. One tool they use is a Lien Sheet (This is in Baltimore City other municipalities may handle it differently). Lien sheets have a list of all city bills due. This includes water bills, property taxes, fines, and special assessments. The Lien Sheet will have a date that the payoff amount is good through. This is 45 days so there is plenty of time to get a property settled. For an extra charge you can also get a violation report. This is especially important for vacant and run down buildings.
How Much Does a Lien Sheet Cost
A lien sheet will cost $25. If you add the violation report it is $55. It seems a bit unfair that you have to pay the city to find out how much you owe them, but that’s the rules. Normally your title company will order it when handling a closing of a property. However if you want to check out a property yourself you can order them online here: Baltimore Lien Sheets
What a Lien Sheet Does Not Cover
Don’t be misled. Despite the what the name might imply, a lien sheet does not list all liens against the property. It is only for city liens. It does not include mortgages, mechanics liens, and other liens against the property.
Many properties that investors buy have some kind of distress in either the property or the owners financial position. This is why we can get such bargain prices. Often these properties are in tax sale. This means a tax lien has been sold to an investor and there may be extra interest and legal fees due. If the property is in tax sale the lien sheet will say you must get clearance from the tax sale office. You can find more information about Baltimore liens here: Baltimore City Lien Sheet FAQ
Of course all of this is normally handled by your title company. However if you are marketing directly to sellers, knowing your way around the tax and lien office will come in handy.
Happy investing – Ned