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Finding Historical Data About Property

Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A

REM #LAW 748

By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

Summary: A ThinkGlink reader would like to know the value of property in 1968. Ilyce and Sam give tips for researching historical data about property.

Q: How can I find the value of a piece of real estate property in Glencoe, Illinois in 1968.
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A: If you’re lucky enough that the piece of property you are searching for was sold in 1968, you might be able to get a copy of the deed or related documents that might get recorded with a deed to determine the value of the property.

In some states and in some counties, the sales price of a piece of property must be placed on the deed. In other places, the value on the deed isn’t stated but related documentation gives the government the value for the land. Unfortunately, in some places around the country, there is no documentation recorded or available to determine the sales price of a particular piece of property when it is sold.

If you search the public records at your local county recorder’s office, you may find that the sales price for this property is available. In some cases, you may need to request additional documentation through a freedom of information request or other request that permits citizens to review public records.

If you can’t find this information in the public records through the recorder of deeds office, in some parts of the country, the local tax assessor’s office may keep records of sales for this and other parcels of land. Your search may date to a time that computer records may not have been kept by the assessor’s office and you may find that the information is kept on paper records.

Those records may assist you in determining the value of the home. Some assessors use actual estimated values for home while others do not have an accurate value for a specific piece of property.

Some real estate brokerage firms keep records on recent sales. The operative word there is recent. In your case, some well-established brokerage firms with extensive computerized systems may still have some of those records available.

A final thought: If you can track down who owned the property in 1968 and are unable to establish value in any other way, you may want to contact the prior owner to find out how much he or she paid for the property.

Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022 or contact them through Ilyce’s website




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