How do I find out if someone has bad credit, liens against their property etc.?

Asked by Scott Willoghby, Sacramento, CA Tue Jan 29, 2013

I've been asked to loan an investor some money, and would like to do a check with the county recorder to ensure he is not bankrupt, what his credit score is etc. Generally that he's OK to lend to. I'm intending to work through a broker but would like to do some Due Diligence myself first.

Any information regarding background checks using county records etc., would be most helpful as I've never done this before.

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Scott Willoghby’s answer
Scott Willog…, , Sacramento, CA
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Hi, thanks for the advice guys. I'm happy to use the broker to help with my DD, but I really wanted to understand for myself how I might be able to do some groundwork and learn the process.

I'm grateful for the info regarding getting the investor to fill out a loan application, which will provide me/the broker with authorization to run a check, but I'd still like to understand if I'm able to do any of this via any local or nationwide websites?

Thanks for your time.
0 votes
Hot Buyer, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Wed Feb 11, 2015
A lien that against a property is typically a public record and you can search for it on County and State website. It is generally filed with a County Records office (for real property) or with a State Agency, such as the Secretary of State (for cars, boats, office equipment, and the like).

There are many real estate information service website such as or can help you to get liens, judgment, property tax and ownership information quickly by the home address. But in the end, you have to contact County Assessor for the possible liens that might filled a day before.
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3 votes
Randy Stoker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Tue Feb 17, 2015
I would allow your broker to do his job and research the prospect's credit and work history for you. You will need a current credit report and copies of prior years tax returns to fully vet your borrower; something that a loan broker can do for you.
0 votes
, ,
Sun Aug 4, 2013
Scott - if you're loaning someone money to acquire property, I'm assuming you'll be creating a Note and Deed of Trust just like any lender would, correct?

If so then these documents will both be notarized and your DOT will be a recorded document....

If your investor doesn't make timely repayments you have the right to foreclose..

And it's still a good idea to check credit, just ask your investor to supply you a full credit report, and ask for proof of assets for collateral purposes, and lastly inquire about the capacity to repay the loan, will it tied to employment, or unloading the subject property?

And how much $$ are we talking about?

Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like more details....

The timing is definitely right to invest in real estate, but you want to protect yourself so you actually reap the rewards that you'll be entitled to!

Best of luck, Jeff M
0 votes
Eddie Martini, Agent, Auburn, WA
Mon Apr 1, 2013
To your most recent reply Scott there is not a TON of Public Info out there that will show someones ability to payback Credit Cards, or other secured Debt. Real Estate debt that is being Foreclosed on will have a Public Notice of Default posted in the local news papers and there are some websites that investors subscribe too that will gather this same information on a nationwide basis. That will help you a little I hope. Below you have the other options that will really paint the right picture for your current needs to be met. Also just by asking for that amount of personal info will show you if they are open and willing to give that to you OR if they are reluctant then that MAY mean they have some issues with their credit profile.
Have you thought about investing the money into your own projects? If you would like to privately discuss your goals and see what options you have feel free to use or 530 320 3032.
0 votes
Teri Andrews…, Agent, Auburn, CA
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Generally for owner financing or private loan have the borrower fill out a loan application that also gives you (the lender) the authority to run credit checks and verifications. You can find a loan application form on line. You may also want to get some legal and financial advice. The title company usually draws up the documents for you including the deed of trust, loan terms ...........
If the borrower won't fill out a loan application that would be a BIG red flag, you should also inspect the property, and maybe require an appraisal (you wouldn't want to loan 300K on a 100K house)

You may also want to contact a loan service that can handle collecting payments, monitor tax payments and so forth for you.
0 votes
Patrick O'Ha…, Agent, Citrus Heights, CA
Tue Jan 29, 2013
If you have never done it before, this is best left to your broker-----that's
why you have engaged their services.
You cannot legally check somebody's credit without authorization and
of course need access to a credit reporting agency.
Not all counties have an easy system for the public to access information,
Sacramento is fairly easy, and you do need thorough information on the
individual inlcuding full name and aka's.
0 votes
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