How to Research the History of Your Home
- By Tim Pitts
- November 14, 2019
Have you ever wondered about the history of your home? You likely know who owned it before you, and maybe you know the history of your neighborhood, but by doing a little sleuthing, you can learn so much more!
1. Talk to your neighbors! Your neighbors are a great source of informal information on your property and the surrounding neighborhood. They often have information that’s not readily available in official documents or online resources.
2. Visit Portland Maps: portlandmaps.com provides a multitude of information about your home and neighborhood, including tax history, permit history, and crime statistics.
3. Are you in a Historic District? Find out if you live in a historic district or if your home is a Certified Historic Home by visiting the National Register of Historic Places and the Oregon Historic Sites Database.
4. Research County Property Records:
If you live in Multnomah County you have quite a few options when it comes to researching your home:
--> The county keeps records related to property transactions (mortgages and deeds, for example) that can be accessed through the Division of Assessment, Recording and Taxation's Public Research Room. You can access the information for free in the Multnomah Building Public Research Room at 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214. You can also access the information online for a fee of $150 +$0.24 per search. (Find out more here)
--> Land Use Planning Decisions: You can also access a partial collection (from 1998 to now) of past land use decisions through a searchable database. Head to multco.us/landuse/planning-decisions and search for your address.
--> The County Surveyor maintains survey information for property in Multnomah County that includes microfilm, paper, and on-line records of surveys dating from 1852 until the present. Go to https://multco.us/surveyor and click on “SAIL - Survey and Assessor Image Locator” to get started.
If you live in Clackamas County head over to the Transportation & Development’s online services to search for permit records and the history of your property. https://accela.clackamas.us/citizenaccess/ You can access more records by going to the County Government Office in Oregon City at 150 Beavercreek Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045. Call before visiting: (503) 742-4400
Unfortunately, Washington County currently does not provide records online, but you may view any recorded documents at the Washington County Assessment & Taxation Department - Recording Division at 155 N First Avenue, Ste 130 MS 9, Hillsboro, OR 97124. Or contact them at (503) 846-8752 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view Survey Maps and tax lot boundaries online at https://www.co.washington.or.us/AssessmentTaxation/GISCartography/maps-online.cfm
5. Multnomah County Library: Uncover the history of your home with the help of reference librarians! Reference librarians have gathered together a collection of resources to help you get started researching the history of your home. Head to multcolib.org/house-history to get started.
6. Title Companies: For a fee, Title companies can also do research into the title to a piece of property. Generally, this will involve a fee. Contact us if you’d like a recommendation for someone to call!
7. Local Historical Society: The Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library has a variety of resources available to the public including the Historic Resource Inventory of Portland, The Portland Realty Atlas, Architectural Plans, and Historic Photographs. Visit the House, Building, and Land History page of the OHS website for a full list of resources. Please note: these resources are not available online- you must visit the OHS Research Library at 1200 SW Park Ave. Portland, OR 97205 to view them.
8. Portland Office of Planning and Development Review is a good source for information on prior permits and land use zoning for your property. You can visit them online at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/34154 or in person at 1900 SW 4th St. 1st floor Portland, OR 97201