Investing in real estate could be a stepping stone to your next phase in life whether that be starting a family, moving to a new city, planning for retirement or a business investment therefore, the last thing you need is to be surprised by a cloud on title, property liens, and violations. Let’s review the differences between the three and how to protect your investment.  


A lien is a legal right or claim against a piece of property filed by a creditor giving the creditors a way to collect debts owed to them by clouding the title of the property and often allowing them to foreclose. Liens must be filed and approved by a county records office or state agency. Generally, a property cannot be sold without the liens being satisfied but it is recommended that buyers should include language on their offer to purchase any property that places sole responsibility on the seller to cure, close, pay, and resolve all outstanding violations, permits, and fines before closing. 

You may take a few steps and search the public records for a property you are interested in but it is recommended that you hire a title agency to ensure any clouds on a title are identified and warranted. 

  1. Search the county recorder, clerk, or assessor’s office online. All you need is the name of the property owner or its address 
  2. Visit the county recorder, clerk, or assessor’s office in person 
  3. Contact a Title agency


A few examples of property violations could be improperly parked vehicles, construction without permits, improper property fencing, trees and vegetation, and noise complaints. There could be many other types of violations but and as long as it is not construction without a permit it is usually a simple process to clear the violation of the property by paying the fine to the county. If the violation is for construction without a permit, the county will determine if the construction must be demolished or if proper permits and inspections to correct the violation is an option in the particular zoning. 


An open or expired permit is a permit that has been issued by a County or Municipal building department but has not been formally finalized. A final inspection is required to close a permit. If you are considering a property with open permits this means that if there is work to be completed before the property could pass inspections, this may delay your purchase date and qualification to purchase the property. Preferably the seller will complete the work and pass the final inspection before finalizing the sale.  

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Hire a Title agency and ensure you have a warranted clear title before investing in real property.

If you have any questions and would like additional guidelines call our office today at 305-809-7650 and speak with a professional real estate agent.