Have you ever wondered about the history of a property? Like who lived there before you? Was it ever used for anything other than a homestead? Or the main question on every new homeowner’s mind: has anyone ever died in your house? While some properties have a crazy past, others are relatively dull. Aside from the obvious onsite investigations of your property (like digging up a time capsule in the back yard), there are some quick and easy ways to find out just what sort of life your property lived before you came onto the scene. Check out these 3 Easy Ways to Learn Your Property’s History:
#1: Search the Chain of Title
This is perhaps the best way to learn the history of a property. A Chain of Title is an ordered list of property owners who have ever owned that property. Since a deed is a legal document used to transfer ownership of land and property, it will likely supply the previous owner’s name, construction dates, changes in value, and even plot maps.
All you need: The deed to your property
Downside: While most deeds are now going to an online database, if you’ve got a mature home on your hands, the deed may only be available in hard copy. So unless you know the exact location of your property’s deed since the time of its birth, you may be missing a lot of its history.
Find out if your property’s deed has gone into the 21st century. Search your deed online.
#2: Check out the Census Records!
We know, we know. The last thing you want to do is spend your Saturday at the public library, but to actually learn the history of a property, you’re gonna need to do some research. Census records can tell you more intimate details not just about your property, but also about the people who lived in it. Consider Census records as the building blocks to your research.
All you need: The names of the previous occupants.
Downside: To truly know the names of the previous occupants spanning back as far as your home’s history, you really would need the Chain of Title, which may not be possible without the deed of your home.
Don’t feel like researching it old school? Search your Census records online!
#3: Dig into Address Based Records
While the other two ways rely heavily on people from the past having their crap in order, this way of researching the history of a property is pretty much foolproof. Why? Because all you need is the address of your property. Yep, that’s it. Then you can search documents that use that same address to sort of Sherlock Holmes your way to the truth. Documents like property records, utility records, building permits, maps, architectural plans should all be available at your local library, government office, or if you want to get really fancy, you’re local historical society.
All you need: Your address.
Downside: If you live in the west coast region of the U.S. your property may be too young to leave a solid trail to track. Lucky for you, the other ways still work with newborn properties.
Search your Address Based Records.
The history of a property matters. It’s the story of your home and it can help put your mind at ease when you’re lying awake at night wondering if you’re sleeping on a Native burial ground. So go forth and uncover the truth about your property. And when you’re ready to purchase a raw piece of land to build a brand new home on, LandCentral will be there. Selling raw land is kind of our thing.
Fun resources to geek out on your property’s history: