Goodspeed: Why is there a lien on our house?


QUESTION: We recently tried to refinance our home for a shorter term and a lower interest rate, which is going to result in a savings to us of more than $90,000 over the life of the mortgage. The day before we were scheduled to pass papers, Quicken Loans informed us that there was a lien against our home. No information. No names. Just, "There's a lien against your home."

Until we can get the lien removed, Quicken Loans says we will be unable to refinance our home. I tried to get a lawyer from the Mass Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) but no one had this area as their bailiwick. If we can’t refinance, I don’t know what we will do. We really need to refinance.

ANSWER: You should be able to find out information about the lien on your property by doing an online search at the Registry of Deeds. The lien is attached to your property and filed at the registry in the county where the property is located. Go to this county’s website, for example,, or whatever the appropriate county. Once here, you can do a document search.

You can search for your property using your name or property address. This should bring up information about any liens attached to your property. You can learn who attached the lien and why, for example, a municipality for nonpayment of taxes, and then take steps to discharge the lien.

OTHER NEWS: Good news for some homebuyers with credit scores on the edge. Beginning July 1, 2017, the three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, TransUnion and Experion - will no longer collect and report amounts of civil judgments and tax liens on public records. Tax liens are levied against a property when the owner is delinquent in paying his or her taxes.

Courts order civil judgments in legal disputes typically involving monetary damages levied against the losing party. Both kinds of information have a negative impact on credit scores and remain on credit files for long periods of time.

The decision to no longer collect and report such data could affect tens of thousands of consumers and help boost their credit scores, making borrowing a little bit easier for these individuals.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of In and Out of Darkness. Email her at: