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Home’s are kind of like people. Each one is different and each has a unique history (some more interesting than others). While some homes have stood the test of time and housed people from centuries past, others have a newer, though no less compelling, history. If you’re beginning the process of researching your home’s history, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you along the way.

Find good resources.

If you already know a little bit about your home’s backstory, great! Use what you know to begin your search. If you don’t know much (or anything) at all, that’s fine. Sometimes all you need is a little healthy curiosity to uncover some really fascinating information. But before you dive into your research, make sure you’re relying on reputable resources.

The Internet is a great tool to find a wealth of information; however, sometimes information posted online may be out of date, inconsistent or flat out wrong. That’s why it’s important to focus your research through reputable sources like the National Register of Historic Places, The United States Census Bureau, or your local historical or preservation society.

Consult your real estate agent.

When you bought your home (or if you are in the process of buying it), your real estate agent may have been able to provide some information on the property’s history. This is especially true if you were buying a home in a designated historic area, or if your home was already recognized as a historic home. Be aware, if you are considering purchasing a historic home, you will most likely need to adhere to the neighborhood’s rules and regulations regarding the preservation of the home and community. Historic neighborhoods have notoriously strict rules when it comes to maintaining the appearance and integrity of the area. Make sure you’re comfortable with this before signing on the dotted line.

Even if your home is not recognized as a historic place and even if your real estate agent doesn’t have a lot of knowledge on your home’s historic past, they can usually help you find the names of previous owners. If you’re definitely buying the home, you’ll most likely conduct a title search before you close. This will review tax records to show you who has legally owned the property from the time it was built to present day.

Look for clues.

If you already own the home, start sleuthing by examining your home’s architectural features. Certain details and designs are indicative to certain periods of time. Likewise, take note of features such as wallpaper, flooring material, etc. as these can help date a home. Personal clues may be found as well. Some people have luck with metal detectors in their backyard, uncovering old coins and other metal items that can provide clues to the history of their home. Just remember, unless you own the property yourself, or you have express permission, do not attempt to snoop around. You could wind up in a lot of trouble for trespassing!

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