How to Do a Record Search for Old Property Values

How to Do a Record Search for Old Property Values
••• old house image by Tasha from

Whether you are contemplating an investment in real estate, trying to determine the equity of your home property taxes, or reconstructing lost records for a loss-claim, knowing how to research records for old property values can be a valuable tool in your determining the worth of property. Property assessment information is contained in pubic records; you need only to know the jurisdiction of assessment to conduct a search.

Gather the information you will need for a property records search. An address is usually not sufficient. Obtain the section, block, and lot numbers for the property from the local assessor's office. This information identifies the property you are researching at the local, county and state levels, no matter the assessing jurisdiction. Local records are also likely to contain the jurisdictional information you need.

Visit or contact online the jurisdiction site of your property. In some towns, for example, records of assessment for properties may extend throughout the history of the property. In other cases, records before a certain date may be manually or electronically stored at another location. In case of manual storage, you may be charged a small fee for a search of the property's history. For a very old property, be prepared to spend time on the telephone or working by mail or in person with the appropriate office.

Contact all applicable offices having jurisdiction over the property. Especially for properties at the borders of towns or counties, there may be more than one taxing authority. You want to be certain that assessment values match among authorities. Further, what may have been built on county land may now be part of a town or vice-versa. Farmland now part of a suburb is one example of change in jurisdiction and also an example of how assessment categories can change (in some counties or states, rural and urban land are assessed at completely different rates).

Question whether easements, variances, and/or tax exemptions make a difference in property valuation. While frequently tax exemptions are strictly owner-related, they sometimes have value impact as well. In Wyoming, for example, a veteran's exemption both lowers property taxes and reduces the assessment value. State, county and local laws vary. Know the ones affecting the value of the property you are researching.