Sometimes there are important reasons to know who lived at your house (for example, if you need to know the specifics of previous on-site construction). Sometimes you might simply be curious about the history of the house. There are relatively straightforward, and free, ways to research former residents through public records, reverse directories and interviewing neighbours. You can also conduct research through fee-based databases or by hiring a private investigator.
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Look up past owners at the assessor's office. Go to the assessor's office (or visit their website) in the county where your house is located, and look up the address (many assessor's offices have historical records of past owners). Contact these people and politely ask if they lived there, who else lived there with them, or to whom they rented the property. Although it's relatively easy to find phone numbers for more recent owners (for example, by calling directory assistance), you may need to dig to find information for past owners. The National Association of Counties, Naco.org, contains contact data for many county assessors' offices.
Find contact information for past owners. If you need to research contact information for a previous owner (such as a phone number, current address), consider conducting a reverse name search in a free search engine (such as Pipl.com) or in a fee-based online database (such as Standard.cyberdetective.net).
Use reverse directories. Many libraries have reverse directories (also called criss-cross directories), in which you can look up information by name, address, phone number, sometimes even by occupation. Look up a previous owner's name in a current reverse directory (if that person still lives in the region, contact information may be listed). You can also look up your home address in older reverse directories to see who else lived at the address. Ask the reference librarian at your local library for the location of their reverse directories.
Interview neighbours. Sometimes neighbours, especially those who've lived in your neighbourhood for years (maybe generations) have information about who lived at your house before you. Neighbours would have seen the daily comings and goings at the house and may recall the names of residents, relatives or visitors, or may have other information to aid your search (the type of work the former residents did, where they moved to, photos and so forth).
Hire a private investigator. If you're having trouble learning who lived at your house, consider hiring a private investigator. Investigators have the experience, skill and resources for locating people. To find a qualified investigator, contact your state professional private investigator association (a list of state associations is on the PI Magazine website, listed in Resources).
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