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Most people who live in an older home wonder about the history of their home. When the home was built, who built it and why, what happened to the original inhabitants, and curiosity about secret passages are common things homeowners wonder about. Fortunately, the answers to these questions are often available. With the right research, you can trace a property’s history and learn about the people who once called it home.

Property Listings

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You can learn a lot of information about a property through the property listing. Real estate sites like Trulia provide property sitemaps that include details about the property. There’s also the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, accessible by real estate agents, which provides the history of the property including photos, zoning, maps with boundaries, and ownership of varying properties.

Closely examine listing photos for clues about the property’s age. The style of construction, the materials used, the shape of the roofline, and window placement are all architectural features that help identify the architectural style and general construction date. Other clues about the property’s age include obvious alterations or additions to the property and the architectural features of nearby buildings.

Address-Based Records

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You can search for address-based records using your property’s address and location to locate documents such as property records, maps, architectural plans, and utility records. Such documents can be found in your local library, local government offices, the local historical society, or in private collections. Local building departments or city planning departments usually maintain building permits for the neighborhood that can help trace the history of a property.

Building permits often list the original owner, architect, builder, date of construction, and the costs and materials of construction. Depending on the age and location of the property, finding old utility records indicating when utilities were first connected could indicate the age of the property. Keep in mind that a home may pre-date electrical, gas, and sewer systems which mean that the date of connection is not necessarily the general construction date when the property was first occupied.

You can also learn information about a property through historical insurance records from insurance companies that have been active in the area for a considerable length of time. Fire insurance claim forms contain details about the nature of an insured building, its contents and value, and floor plans. You can contact area insurance carriers and request a records check for any policies previously sold for your property’s address.

Historical City Maps and Public Records

Many major cities in the United States have historic maps that can be searched with a property address. While you may not find specific photos of your property, you can find historic photos of interest in your neighborhood. You can find information about your property’s previous owners and purchase history by searching your county tax assessor’s office, county recorder, or city hall. Property deeds, information about previous owners, encumbrances on the house, unclaimed property, and legal matters are all public records that you can access.

Free Property Report

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A property report contains a wealth of information about the property in question. Think of a free report about the property as a clue report that uncovers important details that influence your buying decision. It includes reliable pieces of information such as the estimated property value, median sale prices in the area, properties sold in the area, property mapping, market comparison, and suburb insights. You can get your free property report by submitting your personal information and take advantage of comparative market analysis.

Learning about the history of your property is a fun way to gain a new appreciation for your home. Property listings, address-based records, historical city maps, public records, and property reports all provide valuable information and insights about your property.