Several factors impact the price of a home, including location, architecture, and the property’s age. Older properties are typically less desirable and expensive than a house built more recently.
As such, if you’re negotiating the price of your home with a buyer, they may want to know the property’s exact age to ensure you’re not overvaluing it. However, finding out when a house was built can be tricky.
While you can tell if a property is old or new from its architectural design, you can’t figure out the initial construction date from a home’s features alone.
So how do you answer questions like, “when was my house built“? Let’s show you some of the proven ways to find out when your house was built.
1. Request the Ownership Documents
There are two vital documents you can go through to find the original construction date of a home: the title search and title policy. The former contains the complete deed history of a property with the dates for each of the previous owners.
On the other hand, the title policy has the insurance details for the entire deed history. With these documents, you can find out when a house was built. Typically, you can get them from public records at your county records office or website.
2. Get the Tax Records From Your Local County Clerk’s Office
The tax records of a home typically have information about its previous owners and annual tax assessments. As such, it’s another reliable document to go through to find your house’s history.
To obtain the tax records of your house, visit your local county clerk’s office. You’ll have access to several property public records at the county clerk’s office, such as your home’s tax records alongside its deed documents.
3. Check Census Records
Census records can provide you with information on the different owners and residents of a property in the past. However, this depends on the year.
Typically, you may have to check census documents in public records between 1841 and 1911 for the earliest references to your address.
4. Use Street View on Google Maps
Google Maps’ Street View allows you to see a property’s location and move through time to see it at different points in time.
However, you can only use the feature to find the build date of properties built from 2008. As such, if your house was built before 2008, Street View will not be able to get you the year of construction.
5. Check the Toilet Tank
If the property you’re living in hasn’t had its toilet changed since its construction, the build date will be in the toilet tank. If you’ve been asking questions like, “what year was my house built?” you can check inside the tank walls or underneath the cover to determine when the house was constructed.
6. Hire a Local Building Inspector
A professional architectural investigator can help you evaluate a property to determine if it meets architectural standards and building codes. However, that’s not all their job entails.
A local building inspector can also help you dig through public records to find a home’s ownership documents (if you’re struggling to look for them on your own) and provide building permits with details of any renovation work carried out by previous owners.
7. Ask a Local Real Estate Agent
Local realtors who have served clients in a location for years have tons of information about the properties in that area.
One may have even helped sell your current property to one of the previous owners. As such, you may want to consider contacting real estate agents based in your city or county to find out if they have any details about the property’s history.
8. Go Through Online Real Estate Listings
Real estate websites and property listing services usually have property records of the various houses they put up for sale in the Public Facts section. Some of the details you’ll find include the tax ID number, assessor’s parcel number (APN), and the home’s construction year.
9. Get Access to Historical Maps From the Area’s Historical Society
Most local history societies preserve maps and documents containing regional data about a city or county. If you’re wondering, “when was my house built?” contact a member of the area’s historical society, and find out if there are any historical maps or records that could contain your house’s history.
Checking local libraries for some other local records, such as fire insurance maps, is another reliable way to answer the question “how old is my house?”
10. Check the Building’s Architecture
Besides building permits, title deeds, and other property records, you can learn about a home’s history from its architecture.
While you may not be able to tell the exact construction year from the property’s design, you may be able to figure out the era, which will give you a good idea of how old the house is.
For example, houses built between 1780 and 1860 (the classical period) typically have large windows and doors alongside porches and columns.
However, Victorian houses (built towards the end of the industrial revolution) feature large fireplaces, asymmetric architecture, high ceilings, red-colored brickwork, and colorful geometric tiling.
On the other hand, modern-day architectural designs generally include energy-efficient technology, open-plan layouts, glass walls, and designer cladding and wood paneling.
11. Search the County Parcel Viewer
You can find the property records for a home on the county parcel viewer. Using the assessor parcel viewer, you can either search for the home using its address, APN (which you can find on a real estate website), or an interactive map.
When you find the property you’re looking for on the county parcel viewer, click on it, and a pop-up box will display information on the home, such as assessed value, the number of bedrooms, tax history, and date of construction.
However, if you can’t find the parcel viewer on the website of your county recorder, search for it on Google or the official county/city site. Note that some counties have different names for their parcel viewers, such as property information viewer or parcel lookup.
12. Take a Look at the Neighborhood
You can also learn about your home’s history from the neighborhood. For example, if the home you’re planning to buy is in a location where all the properties are identical to several others and arranged in neat rows, the area may be an old mill or factory worker’s cottage built for workers of a local factory during the industrial revolution.
In fact, the location is essential things to consider when purchasing a house. So before purchasing a property, be sure to learn about the different kinds of neighborhoods in the chosen city!
There may also be locals around the neighborhood who know when some of the original owners built their houses. You could ask them some questions and see if they have any idea when your home was built.
Frequently Asked Questions
Besides the “when was my house built” question, homeowners often have other related questions about their home and its age. In this section, we help property owners answer some of these queries.
Why Should You Know When Your Home Was Built?
The age of your home can impact a seller’s decision during the home-buying process. Old buildings cost less than properties built more recently.
As such, finding out the construction year of the house could help a potential investor determine if you’re overvaluing the property. Older homes also often have architectural defects because of wear and tear.
Thus, if a seller finds out the construction of your property took place decades ago, it may prompt them to carry out additional research, such as a building inspection, to find out if there’s any significant flaw in the structure. Finding a structural defect could influence their decision about buying the home.
Furthermore, the age of your home is crucial if you’re planning a renovation. It’s advisable to know if your property is an old building before making any major changes to the structure.
When Is a House Considered an Old Building?
Generally, if a home is 50 years old, it’s an old property. However, this is subjective. Some home buyers might consider a home built 15 or 20 years ago old.
Are Old Homes Safe?
Old houses often have structural defects because of wear and tear. As such, it’s advisable to undertake a building inspection before buying or moving into an older property.
Selling a home can be a challenging task. There are several hurdles to cross before your property is ready for the final sale, and figuring out the age of a house is one of them.
If you’re planning to sell your house but want to do it without the hassle, reach out to us at Homes by Ardor.
We’re a top brokerage firm with expert real estate agents that can help you sell your property in no time. What are you waiting for? Give us a call today!
Kris Reid is the CEO of Ardor SEO, a company that helps real estate professionals get more leads and customers to predictably grow their business.
Over the years, Kris acquired extensive knowledge of SEO and its practical applications in various industries, with the main focus on real estate.
In 2021 Ardor launched the Icons of Real Estate Podcast to share proven strategies from the top producing icon agents with the real estate community.
After obtaining the real estate license in 2022, Kris joined eXp Realty and launched Homes by Ardor, the platform that was built to be the fastest way to buy or sell a house. Homes by Ardor also provides leads for its partner companies and realtors.