How to check the history of a property

Written by diane stevens | 13/05/2017
How to check the history of a property
Allow yourself a lot of time to trace a property's history. (old house image by Dennis Carrigan from

When researching the history of a property, you will need to know more than just its street address. Things like street addresses can change over time, which is why it is necessary to find information on the property’s legal location. The legal location is the type of information used on property records that document the property and its previous owners and usage. Researching the history of a property can be a time-consuming trek through local, county and state offices that create and archive these records.

Inspect the property looking for any type of marker, such as a cornerstone, that would give you some information on its history.

Visit the county clerk's office in the county where the property is located, for assistance in obtaining the legal description of the property's location and information on past deeds.

Learn about the architectural style of different periods within the area. Estimate the age of the building based upon architectural style. If the style is more recent than records are showing for a building on the property, then you will know the building is not original to the property.

Ask the current owner if he has an abstract of title that details past ownership of the property.

Visit the local library. Ask the librarian for assistance with your research, such as providing historical area maps, photographs and books written about the area.

Contact the historical society located in the town, or the state, for assistance locating maps and photographs and any other documentation on the property.

Research wills at the state’s archives. There might not be a deed transaction if property was passed down from family member to family member.

Check if there is a town, village or city historian. Call for access to files and other documentation.

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