An excellent attorney is key to your successful closing. They do title search and check on liens on a property so when it comes time to close you know your title is clear. Always buy an owners title policy as sometimes title problems happen because something was inadvertently missed or could not be found in the public records. An owners Policy of Title Insurance can insure you against unforeseen problems. Possible hidden title problems can include errors or omissions in deeds, mistakes in examining records, forgery or undisclosed heirs.
Tim is correct. Once you are "under contract" on a property, your title company will search for any outstanding liens. These will need to be cleared up in order to transfer to the new owner. Your REALTOR can help guide you through the entire home buying process. Hopefully you're working with one?