Before you buy a piece of property, make sure you are aware of any liens that are already attached to the property. A lien is a security interest, the right to retain the possession of another's property until the owner fulfills an outstanding debt secured by the property. The most common type of lien against a property is a mortgage, but other liens may be attached. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will attach a lien to an individual's property by operation of law if the individual has failed to pay his taxes. Since liens are a matter of public record, it is relatively easy to determine what liens, if any, are attached to property.
Determine in which county the land sits.
Visit the County Clerk's office for that county and inquire whether there are any liens against the property. All liens against a property must be recorded with the county clerk. Some counties also have their records online, searchable by address, saving yourself a trip to the County Clerk's office.
Pay any appropriate administrative fees charged by the county clerk for running a lien search on the property.
Access lien records through paid, online service providers, if you are unable to travel to the County Clerk's office.