Pro Tips on How to Figure Out Past Sales, Fires, Deaths & More Associated with a Home
Shopping for a house can raise lots of questions, especially when you find a home you want to buy.
Is the house actually in good condition?
How many times has the home sold in the past?
Have there been fires or gas leaks at the house?
Has anything questionable or unsettling happened at the home in the past that I would want to know about before making an offer or buying it?
Answering these questions can be easier than you think if you know where to look for specific information. To help you with that, here’s a rundown of some helpful resources homebuyers can use to investigate the history of houses before making offers or finalizing a purchase.
When you want to find out more about the past of a given house, here are some of the best tools, databases, and other resources you can use to get the information you need.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM): Find land title records, Federal title records, land status records, and a whole lot more, dating back to 1788, for land across Texas (and the U.S.). While the BLM databases aren’t comprehensive, they do contain a wealth of information, with more and more records being added to these databases daily.
- The local property appraisal and tax information (PATI) office: Here is a complete list of all of the local PATI offices in Texas. Through your local office, you can get more information about past property values, special appraisals (like agricultural or special inventory appraisals), prior property taxes, and other information.
- NETRonline.com: This online tool can tell you more about any environmental risks that may be present at a property, from toxic vapors to various forms of contamination and spills. Additionally, this resource can supply you with parcel maps, property reports, past ownership records, the locations of comparable properties, tax information, and more.
- DiedInHouse.com: Use this database to find out whether anyone has died in a specific house and, if so, whether that death was the result of natural causes, an accident, suicide, or murder. Beyond those details, you can also discover whether a house has ever been a meth lab, a dumpsite, or the site of a fire.
These tools and resources can be powerful ways to get a better look at what a house and property have been through — and whether you really want to make an offer or whether it’s time to move on and find something else.
While you can do as much research as you want about any home you’re considering buying, there are certain things that sellers in Texas have to disclose, per Texas Property Code (Section 5.008).
Some of the items that sellers must disclose (as long as the sellers are aware of the issue) include:
- Previous landfills
- Fault lines or soil movement
- Previous flooding and/or flood damage claims
- Previous or active termites, including any termite damage
- The presence of lead, radon, or other hazardous materials
- Previous manufacturing of meth at the property
- Deaths not caused by accident, suicide, or natural causes
Keep in mind that some of these issues can come up on home inspections even if sellers don’t disclose or know about them. If they do, it’s crucial to remember that:
- You, as a buyer, still have options.
- Unexpected damage or issues that are reported on home inspections can be great points of leverage to renegotiate the purchase price and potentially get a better deal on a home.
- You can turn to an experienced Realtor for help with the next steps in negotiations and beyond.
Whether you’re ready to buy a home in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, or elsewhere in Texas, the support of a pro can go a long way to set the deal up for success!
To get experienced help buying a house and to get cash back at closing, work with the 5-star Realtors® at New Home Gurus. We can guide you through the process, helping you with offers, negotiations, and closing. Plus, we’ll split our commission with you at closing!
Home buyers who work with New Home Gurus can get back an average of $4,500 to $12,000 at closing.
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Call (281) 668-8124 or Contact Us to Find Out Now
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