How to tell what position a Mortgage is in and lien priority

How to tell what position a Mortgage is in and lien priority


Hi, I ordered 4 title searches this months. We are interested in buying properties and your service was highly recommended on

The issue I am having is that the report is hard to read. I specifically want to find out what position a mortgage is in and don’t see that on your reports. Maybe I am reading it incorrectly. I have seen sample reports on other service websites and they clearly spell out the position.I like your service, and the turnaround time is perfect, so I thought I would reach out to see if there is something I am just not understanding.

If it also possible to find out how much of a mortgage is still remaining, or is this not public record?
Also, we may be ordering many reports in the upcoming future Do you offer package plans?

Thanks in advance,

Tammy R.


Hello, this is a great question and we are asked this quit a bit by clients who are attempting to decipher mortgage positions (first and second position lien holders as well as subordination).

First position mortgages or (superior liens)

Most importantly there can only be one first position lien holder which takes priority over all other lien holders (which is typically the 30-year conventional mortgage). When a mortgage loan is taken out to purchase a home, there are typically two documents involved in the transaction: This would involve a promissory note and a mortgage note (considered a deed of trust or DOT). The note represents your personal promise to repay the loan taken out including the amount with interest that was borrowed. The mortgage on the other hand provides the lender or mortgage company a lien on the home. The lender or mortgage company then records the mortgage in with the county recorder’s office or county clerk. This is referred to as the “first mortgage” or “first DOT (deed of trust).”

Second position liens and  subordinate mortgages

In many cases a borrower will required two loans or mortgage to purchase the real estate or property. Most popular and widely used loan is the 80/20 loan which consist of two loans in which case first loan covers 80% of the purchase price whiled the second mortgage (AKA 2nd mortgage or junior mortgage) covers the remaining balance of 20%. The subordinate mortgage securing the smaller amount will always be recorded after the larger first mortgage.

In many cases, the buyer or (homeowner) can also take out a third mortgage or a home equity line of credit (AKA HELOC Mortgage) after the close of the purchase, later down the road. This type of mortgage can also be considered “third mortgage.”

Regarding mortgage balances, these are paid down on an amortized schedule and change constantly through out the life of the loan. You can typically contact the lender to order a payoff quote for the current mortgage balances. Meanwhile you can estimate the current balance by the original recorded loan amount, rate and term of the loan. Only the original amount of the loan amount is recorded.

Thank you,

Mark S.

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