Researching Past Owners of an Old Home or Property

How to find out about who owned a home previously

Are you researching an old family home, farm, or business location in order to help in genealogical research? Maybe you want good information on when your great-great-grandfather owned a home, or perhaps you want to learn the history of the home in which you are living. This type of research is often not as difficult as you would think.

The first step is to obtain the address and county tax ID for the property you want to research. If you don't know the address you may be able to find out more details from family members, old city directories, old phone books, church records, obituaries, or other documents.

Once you have located the address, you want to find out the tax ID. If the home or building still exists you can usually find the address without too much issue. Many county tax assessors have a website you can use to enter the address and get the tax ID. If the county you are researching does not have such a website you can usually call the local county assessor and get the tax ID. If you have an old address for the property which does not match existing road names it may be necessary to look at old maps and match them up with current maps.

Once you have the county tax ID, you will most often want to go to a title company in the same county to obtain a "chain of title" for the property. Please note that some counties provide the chain of title information online though most do not. The chain of title will give you the names and dates of ownership of the property. If you have any questions about this process a local title company near the property in question is usually a good resource.

Written by Jay Nielsen. Used with permission.

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