How to Research a Home’s History

How to Research a Home’s History

When you buy a house, having a clear picture of its history and background is critical. For one, it can let you know if there are any hurdles that could throw off your purchase (like liens against the house or problems with the title, for example).

It can also help you estimate when repairs and home maintenance might be necessary — and how much you need saved up for when those arise. Here are our top 5 ways to perform house history research:

Are you on the House Hunt? Here are Five Ways to Research a Home’s History Before you Buy:

A title agent can do a deep dive into a home’s ownership records. They can determine if there are any liens against the house (maybe the last owner forgot to pay their taxes, for example) and if there are any findings from a title search that would prevent you from buying the home. Thorough house history research is always important because there may issues from a previous owner the current seller is not aware of.

2. Head to the Courthouse

The courthouse will have records on any building permits that were requested for the property over the years, which can help you gauge what sort of renovations might have been done, who completed them, and other details. You can also find historical maps if you want to learn more about the local history of the city or neighborhood you’re buying in.

3. Go to the Local Library or Historical Society

If you’re looking at an older property, the local library should have resources for you. You may be able to find the home in old newspapers and town documents they have on file. If there’s a historical or preservation society in the area, they can help, too. They might even have a historian who can walk you through the home’s history themselves.

4. Talk to Neighbors

People who live next door or on the same street can often have great insights. They might know when the home was damaged in a storm, how well the previous owner took care of the place, when the roof was replaced, and more. They might also have valuable neighborhood knowledge to share, and visiting the neighborhood before buying a home is always a good idea.

5. Ask your Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent can be a good resource, too. They can walk you through the property’s sale history and its construction and can even pull up old listing photos so you can see how the home has changed over the years. 

Ready to Buy a House?

Before you start your home search, make sure you get prequalified for a mortgage. This can help you better gauge your budget and give sellers more confidence in your offers. Apply now or get in touch with an Embrace Home Loans office in your area today.

Share this:
By Aly Yale / July 29th, 2022 / Categories: / Tags:

Aly Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, mortgage, and the housing market. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Bankrate, The Motley Fool, Business Insider, The Balance, and more. Prior to freelancing, she served as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She graduated from Texas Christian University's Bob Schieffer College of Communication with a major in radio-TV-film and news-editorial journalism. Connect with her at or on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.