How to Research Your Historic Property
Finding Construction Date and Improvements For Your Property
Completing deed research and establishing a Chain of Title, or complete list of property owners, will enable you to determine the construction date of your building and possibly improvements that were made over time. Deed research is done from the most recent property purchase to the oldest. Some of this data may be found online in the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Real Property Data Search database.
I. Find current deed number
Find current deed number (composed of liber and folio) on your annual property deed, your county tax assessment form, or use a tax map to find parcel number and parcel book to find current deed number
II. Read current deed
The current deed will allow you to record several important details:
1) date of the most recent property purchase
2) who bought the property (grantee) and who sold the property (grantor)
3) possibly the selling price
4) the previous deed (liber and folio) when the grantor purchased this property
III. Continue working backwards
Record the information outlined in Section II for each subsequent deed until you determine that the property was purchased from a developer or the original town. If a previous deed is not recorded within the deed you are viewing, record the grantor name and use this name in the grantee index to find the deed number.
IV. Tax assessments
Use your completed chain of title to review tax assessment records for additional information. Use each owner’s name to look up an property descriptions or improvements. Any large jump in assessment may indicate construction on the property.
V. Compare tax records and chain of title
Comparing the information you recorded from the tax assessments and the chain of title will give you a good record of when your building was constructed or improved.
VI. Other forms of property conveyance
Property may be transferred also through a will or an equity court decree. In a will, the deceased (testator) devises land to heirs; use the testator’s name in an index at the Register of Wills to follow the property transfer. In an equity court decree, the court assigns property in the potential case of a foreclosure or when a property owner dies intestate (without a will); use the equity indices in Land Records for your research.