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Do I have to pay for undiscovered home liens?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2019 | Residential Real Estate |

Learning all you can about a North Carolina home before you buy it is a critical stage of the real estate process. Ideally, you would learn about any liens that have been placed on the house, and with that information, consider whether to proceed with the sale and try to have the liens resolved. In some cases, though, liens are discovered after the closing of a sale, which can cause problems for the new owner.

While the initial discovery period should uncover liens that are placed on a home, sometimes this does not happen. According to U.S. News and World Report, it is possible for any kind of lien to suddenly come to light during the sales process. You might find the home has a federal, state or local tax lien. Homeowners who missed child support payments may have liens placed on their home. Other liens can include dues to a homeowner association or liens to recoup money owed to a contractor.

Unfortunately, it is possible for a buyer to become stuck with the responsibility of paying off a lien that went undiscovered until the sale was complete. The reason is because the liens are tied to the property and not the individual who owned it. For this reason, the lien does not follow the previous owner to a new residence. Worse, a new buyer incurs the consequences of not paying off the new liens, including the possibility of foreclosure.

This is one reason why home buyers purchase title insurance. Title insurance companies assist buyers by checking to see if there are any outstanding claims on a title and looking for liens that exist on the property. In the event you do find a lien after the closing of the property, the coverage offered by the title insurance company can offer you protection and cover the liens.

People who are concerned about surprises emerging during their real estate transaction have the option of consulting with a real estate attorney for assistance. Keep in mind that real estate transactions vary across buyers, so only read this article for its informational content and not as legal advice.