You would need to check with the court of record in the subject's area to be sure. Its public record, and depending on your area, may be available online. Beyond the Scope of a typical appraisal, part of Title work/Title Attorney , and if I were to provide this info, I would charge accordingly to pay for an attorneys research.
I would also caveat that the appraiser is not a court reporter nor has typical access to court records outside the local courthouse and the reader cannot assume that litigation does or does not exist. Do not take on the legal responsibility that these jokers are trying to place on you. Yes, scope it away as SOW even if you answer the question.
I don't have a problem searching for such information, but typically it is beyond the scope of my practice. The exception would be if I discovered something in the course of performing the appraisal that indicated the property was involved in litigation, then I am obligated to explore further.
I advise appraisers to be familiar with being able to search county records, including deeds, lis pendens, and similar items. If you know how to do it, and someone asks for this information, you can provide it. I recommend clearly describing what action you took and on what days, in case subsequent filings occur.
Another option is simply to hire others to perform the service, then add your management fee on top.
I started appraising in 1985 and computers were just used for text and not for data. Through the years computers have open our industry to the world. If your service area has county records on-line or the courthouse is nearby, most computers allow a grantor and grantee searches. I recently found a Lis Pendens attached to a title. The lender holding the title in all likelihood has knowledge of this pending lawsuit, but the management company that order the appraisal does not. No one will buy this property with a pending lawsuit. I believe this has an impact on the value and the marketability. Although the value we demonstrate excuses us from defects in title, just the knowledge of a pending lawsuit provides additional creditability to our service.
A copy of the Lis Pendens is attached to this post and was quite easy for me to find. Remember appraising 101 is to define your subject and is not just the physical aspects of the property. You can elevate your skills by learning how to use the data within the courthouse.
There are only two appraisers that are known in the one courthouse I visit weekly. My presence in this registry of deeds has brought me several assignment and referrals. Most appraiser fear to perform a title search that takes me minutes to do. All our forms are the same. But our knowledge and skills are not. I have chosen to elevate my skills and yes I perform title search for data not for the quality of the title. There is a difference between data and possible defects in a title. I seek the data.