How to check the history of a property

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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About the Author

Diane Stevens' professional experience started in 1970 with a computer programming position. Beginning in 1985, running her own business gave her extensive experience in personal and business finance. Her writing appears on Orbitz's Travel Blog and other websites. Stevens holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from the State University of New York at Albany.

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