When a house is sold, there is a transfer of a deed. This legal document identifies, among other things, the person that sold the house (the granter) and the person that bought the house (the grantee). Older houses can have a long list of owners and this list is known as the chain of title. Searching for past owners of a house is best accomplished by performing a chain of title search, tracing the deeds from the current owner, back in history. This can be a time-consuming yet fascinating process.
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Determine in which county the house is located.
Call the county clerk, or check the website, to find out where deeds are stored. For instance, in Nevada, deeds are archived at the County Assessor's Office.
Check to see if the jurisdiction in which the house sits has an online database of deeds. In many regions of the country ownership details, such as names, are not disclosed online. If not, you will need to visit the office in which the deeds are held.
Perform a search of the property transfer or deed microfilm, or other indexes available by using the address of the house. This should lead you to the name of the current and former owners of the home.
Look for a deed number, usually located on the bottom of the deed. Use this as a reference to search for the next change-of-ownership document. For instance, in Delaware, the deed numbers refer to a book, volume and page. These numbers can then be used to search the index for the next owner in the chain of title.
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