Try And Do Your Own Free Property Lien Search

Plowing through the auction lists even with the magnificent tool that is, pulls up more properties than any one person can handle in terms of research. Even though the website offers an inexpensive $45 Title Search Report, you should be able to cut down on the number of reports that you order by eliminating the properties that don’t meet your own personal criteria of title encumbrances.  A “Title Encumbrance” is anything that attaches legally to the title of the property like mortgages, other liens, and judgements. Learn how to do your own Free Property Lien Search to save money in the future.

Of course, everybody’s criteria are different, some thrive on the heavily lien laden properties because they know how to remedy some if not all of them after the auction for pennies on the dollar, others seek the simple life and want to work with just mortgage or HOA foreclosures with few  if any other encumbrances.

If you are someone like me, who gets easily confused with a jumble of out of sequence information and doesn’t want to spend $45 on every property that takes your fancy, you really need to get organized with your research. Learn how to do a free property lien search yourself. Over the years, I have developed a step by step method that with a little effort, patience and practice you can quickly see how entrenched in encumbrances liens and judgements a property is.  This same method is employed in one form or another by professional abstractors and companies.

Member’s Only: Download “Free Property Lien Search Made Easy E-Book” for detailed steps!

The method requires a computer with preferably a minimum of two monitors.   Yes, one monitor setups will work, but it will take longer and be more difficult. In this day and age with monitors costing less than a bag of french fries why wouldn’t you get another? Access to the internet is obviously required so you can log onto, and the County Public Records Search. Finally, you will need that wondrous program, Microsoft Excel or some other knock off version of that spreadsheet program like Google Sheets, Apple Numbers, pick your favorite.

To start, grab all the important auction information fields & values from the property detail page such as; auction defendants, auction plaintiffs, final judgement amount, case number & property legal description, and place all that information into your spreadsheet in one column.

Copy data to spreadsheet
Copy important fields from our property detail page to your Spreadsheet.

Now it’s time to search for encumbrances in your county’s official records search.  This is where all the legal documents are recorded and indexed and made available for everyone to search and view.  Most county official records searches allow you to search back into the 90’s or beyond so you want to limit the searches to the date the defendant bought the property and after. The date the property was purchased by the defendant is listed on’ s property detail page.

Once the date filter is set to the date the property was purchased until today, enter the defendant’s name and press search. You should now be looking at all the liens from the search results that are shown against them and not necessarily the property you are interested in.  You must filter out entries that are not the ones being auctioned.  Makes sure you do this for each of the defendants and you also might want to try some name spelling variations as well.

From here copy and paste all the search from the county public records website into the spreadsheet in a list format. Now let the spreadsheet program help you do the rest, by sorting and grouping all the liens & mortgages in date order and separately all the satisfactions and releases of past mortgages & liens. Once you have an order of all the recorded documents segregated by date and type of record you can quickly take a few minutes to search each of the mortgages and other liens together with the satisfaction or released documents on the public record website and place the book and page numbers against each recorded document in the spreadsheet.

Copy paste County records to spreadsheet
Copy all the liens and judgements from official records to your spreadsheet

Following this all you have to do is simply match the book and page numbers from each mortgage or other encumbrance with a satisfaction or released recorded document and what’s left unpaired is the open encumbrances on the property.

From this moment on you have a clear picture of what you are dealing with, being in date order you can easily see which mortgages and other liens takes precedence over the other therefore making a quick determination which lien is in first place and so on.

This practice of pairing has helped me numerous times figure out what is going on with a title of a particular property and the best part is I did not have to waste $50 on a title search to find out that a property does not meet my encumbrance criteria.

What is surprising though is that an auction property with numerous liens against it and looking extremely daunting & risky suddenly becomes ‘a greenlight’ once you organize and then check off or pair the matching liens. I have called this method ‘Pairing’ it’s simple and quick to learn and I love it!

Member’s Video: ▶️ Watch the detailed video version of this article here! ▶️

I will point out that if I am going to for sure bid on a particular property at the County auction after I am done ‘Pairing’ my list, I always buy a Title Search Report to check that I have not missed anything.   I am not a professional abstractor and can easily overlook something or not paste something correctly.  Better to spend $50 to have a professional double check my work than spend hundreds of thousands on a property with a mortgage that doesn’t go away after I win the bidding!  My method of ‘Pairing’ is not a replacement for a professional title search, it’s simply a way to whittle down a long list of properties you are interested in bidding on to make a very small list of action properties.

When I am in the swing of things, I can knock out my own Title Search Report in less than 15 minutes for a complex property and less than 10 minutes on a simpler case. When I come across something that doesn’t make sense, I will call our real estate attorney for an explanation in a quick consultation session. A good real estate attorney like mine will explain the rationale of a certain ‘impossible, can’t be right’ situation that comes up now and then. That in turn empowers me with knowledge that I can employ time and time again with either the same or similar type of title problem in the future.  That is how I have gained a large amount of knowledge of the interaction of encumbrances and title with regards to the county auction game.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to quickly pick up the same skills I have when researching properties for the county auctions. When I first started in the Florida foreclosure auction market in 2012, I used to look at these public records and think ‘oh my gosh’, now they read to me like a simple information sheet, all down to my ‘Pairing’ method.  If I can do it, so can you.

This month I decided to share how to create a Free Property Lien Search system FOR FREE with our premium members, I felt selfish keeping it all to myself and a few other colleagues here in the office, so I have written an eBook here, and made a hands-on video here showing exactly how to perform this simple ‘Pairing’ method.

It’s funny, for those of you that iron clothes (and I am one of them) looking at a pile of laundry is a lot like looking at a property with lots of liens, but once you start the process it becomes quite cathartic and when you finish you are looking around for more. Happy Pairing!

Tony Stern

Born and educated in the UK, Tony began his real estate career in 1976. By 1982 Tony launched a real estate development firm. In the 1990’s he created, acquired & sold several companies including Star Refining an international precious metal refining company with offices around the world. Since 2001 Tony has been investing in all aspects of real estate, concentrating on the Florida foreclosure market. Seeing a need to help investors, in 2016 Tony co-founded,

2 thoughts on “Try And Do Your Own Free Property Lien Search”

  1. user nameMoneic Miller says:

    I found myself doing my own research years ago at 23 years old. I was living in upstate N.Y and wanted to purchase a second home in Florida. I flew down to florida to sign the papers after the bank accepted my offer. I was excited to find a great deal until I learned a judgement for $10,000 extra was in effect. I never did sign which on my part I regret now. The house was three years old in great shape. I made an offer for
    $ 34,000.00 the bank came back offering $ 33,000.00. The value of the house and property was set at
    $185,000.00. Here I am twenty three years later never did buy that second home. However, I do live in Florida and I’m looking to purchase my second home in the near future. Being educated makes a big difference saving you time and money. My Lesson learned, Never pass up an opportunity over having cold feet. Thank You Tony for sharing your story alot has changed in twenty three years.

    1. user nameTony Stern says:

      Moneic, experience is a wonderful thing, especially when deployed for your own benefit.

      All of us have regrets about the deal we should have bought, but it all balances out over time.

      I never forget a saying that my mentor gave me many years ago: “Some of the best deals I have done are the ones I did not do.”

      I am sure 23 years on, you have a better idea of what you want, and you will deploy all your experience this time out.

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