The best answer is you should hire an attorney to represent your interests for the closing of the sale. Only an attorney can adequately review the deeds/mortgages/tax records/liens & judgments and other documents in the chain of title and certify that you are obtaining good title to the property.
If you choose not to hire an attorney the best you can do is hire a local title abstractor to do a title search, lien search and assessment search. You will then have to review the abstractor's findings.
The last option is to visit the assessment office, recorder of deeds, and prothonotary's office and perform these searches for yourself.
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Marshall D. Chriswell is a civil practitioner with offices in Indiana and Clearfield Counties. Mr. Chriswell's practice emphasizes Wills & Estate Planning, Probate, Real Estate, and general civil disputes.
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Even though you intend to purchase the house from a friend, you would be well advised to have a ewritten agreement of sale. You would be well advised to either retain or at least consult an attorney.
Focusing on your specific question, you should purchase title insurance to protect your investment in case any challenges to your title arise in the future. As part of the process, the title company will do a title search, which will identify any liens or unpaid taxes.
This response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. It does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. This response is based upon the limited facts provided by the posted question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response may change. I am licensed to practice law only in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Responses are based solely on Pennsylvania law unless stated otherwise.
I agree with what my colleagues have written.
You would be well advised to retain the services of a real estate attorney who will negotiate the terms of a contract and order a title search for you. You should be aware that there may also be taxes due on the sale (in PA typically about 2 per cent of the purchase price and the local custom is to split it 50 50 between buyer and seller.
If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.