In most Pennsylvania counties, it is relatively simple to search through the appropriate recording offices and/or courts to see what liens may be present on a piece of real estate that is currently the subject of a mortgage foreclosure or a sale. However, it’s a rather dangerous assumption to assume that such inquiry will reveal the sum total of all possible liens on such real estate—unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

Instead, a wise individual should order a formal title search on the real estate from a reputable and experienced title searcher. Not only will this search show all of the “record” liens on the real estate, but most title searchers will also go the proverbial extra mile and look into liens that may not show up on record in Pennsylvania. This could include domestic relations arrears, PA corporate tax liens, and/or Department of Public Welfare/Department of Human Services liens for assistance.

A good title searcher will also indicate the presence of a recorded declaration of condominium, or documentation from a homeowners’ association. This information could point the way toward any liened sums due the condominium association or homeowners’ association.

In summation, if you have an interest in a specific piece of real estate, the title search can be worth its weight in gold… not only to see if there’s any public, lien-related documentation on the property, but to find out what most of us can’t see under the surface.