Landlord Blog

Education and news for smart DIY landlords!

How to Find Out the History of a House Before Buying

In the real estate business, home sellers won’t always disclose all the information about the home they’re selling. When you buy a home without knowing its history, it might cause you problems down the road. Contrary to the misconception that delving into the history of one’s house is only for your curiosity’s satisfaction, knowing what the building is built of and how it was used is actually crucial, especially when it comes to repairs, alterations, and maintenance. 

Buying a home is probably the largest investment you ever make in your life, so it makes sense to practice due diligence before investing. As a potential buyer, you might want to know more about all the relevant facts that may affect the value of the home you’re purchasing. To get you started, here are five ways to find out a history of a house.

1. Search the property listings

Start with the basics by looking at the listing for the property on the Multiple Listing Service or MLS. It’s a private, online database that real estate agents use to share details about properties for sale. The listing contains essential home information, including the year it was built, how recently it was renovated, the size of the lot, the school district, etc. This gives you a precise overview of the property. Although only a licensed agent can access the MLS, it’s part of their job to research a property’s history for you.

2. Ask your realtor 

Apart from the MLS, you can ask your real estate agent what they know about the house and the area. Great realtors might be an even better source of information because they often know details about particular neighborhoods and homes that aren’t available online. They should also be able to assist you in finding the names of the previous owners or at least connect with the agent representing the seller to answer any questions you have.

3. Search the registry of deeds

Another way to know the history of a property is to search for its deed. You can find your property’s deed through an online search at your local registrar’s website or a visit to the office in person. The registrar’s record will contain the names of the previous owners and the person who sold it to them. Keep going as far back as possible until you find the original owner.

4. Ask the neighbors

On a less technical note, neighbors can be an excellent source of information. You can ask the neighbors about the area and the property’s previous owners. They may know them personally and have details you may never find in public records. The neighbors can also tell you how the house handles calamities like floods and earthquakes, especially if they’ve lived in the area for many years. 

5. Search

A property’s history also includes the people who died in the house, particularly deaths under unusual circumstances like murder or suicide. If you’re curious enough to know, you can go to the website For $12, you receive an instant report that tells you about any deaths that occurred in the house and when they happened. While realtors can disclose this information, they’re not always required to do it.


Finding out the history of a house you're buying is more than satisfying your curiosity. It’s a way to protect your investment and help you plan for future home repairs and alterations. When you know the property’s history before closing the deal, you’ll know what issue to expect later. And, of course, if the home was previously owned by celebrities or is part of a historic neighborhood, that information may add value to your property. 

Read more articles below!