Adam Dow Real Estate

What every buyer needs to know

Buyers Guide

Google is your Friend

Google the street address of the property.

1. Trace My House

A fast and simple read on tracing the history of a house.  The helpful resource will handhold you through the step-by-step research process that starts with getting to know the building itself. Work backwards from what you know now; taking a step at a time and making sure at each stage you are satisfied that you have the right house and the right road.

2. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

The federal agency is the official keeper of records in the United States and that includes historical genealogical and land records. The land records section contains a wealth of information hidden in land patents, land case entries, farm ownerships, rehabilitation records and more among the ten million individual land records archived with the office. The site is a complete guide to federal records and could be a useful jumping off point. NARA also links out to powerful search aids (and other databases) like Heritage Quest Online, Fold3, and The Ancestry Institution. Some indexes may be password protected and only for registered members.

3. Family Search

Family Search is a free website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The site contains records and details spanning census data, birth and death certificates, church parish tallies, military enrollments, amongst other types of data. Use the Family History Research Wiki to not only get genealogical research advice but also find sources of record collections.

4. Cyndi’s List

One of the most comprehensive resources on the web that collates links to genealogy research and tools. You can use this site to kickstart your house history search. 189 categories with 300,000+ links is a lot of research to dip into. Each U.S. state has its own page of links, individual pages for US county, along with the House & Building Histories page.

5. Old House Web

Forums still hold a lot of power in the age of social networks. Old House Web is a meeting ground for enthusiasts of old homes but its community forum packs a punch for discussions of all kinds (and not just old house remodeling!). Remodelers can be sounded out for clues too.


Google the street itself to see if there is any news online.

There are many safe and legal ways to check on your (potential) neighbors, and with perfect anonymity.

Find out your neighbor's name WhitePages site, you’ll have your neighbor’s name in seconds. The service is free and easy to use. Simply enter the street address, and you should be good to go. 

With a WhitePages paid account, you can obtain more detailed reports, including mobile numbers, bankruptcy records, criminal records, and other data.

SpotCrime provides a map of an area and pinpoints exactly where reported crimes took place. The information is gathered from police records and news items, and it’s impressively comprehensive.  

NextDoor is gaining popularity, especially in neighborhoods where residents don’t know each other well. The website connects neighbors online to share news, events, and recommendations, a sort of bulletin board for neighborhood chatter. Many people use this site to discuss local goings-on, like trash pickup, PTA updates, and block parties. If your pet goes missing, you can instantly alert the whole area. More urgently, neighbors can warn each other about burglaries and vandalism. Like any social media user, folks on NextDoor reveal a lot about their personalities. You will likely find your neighbors listed, and their interests, concerns, and grievances should become apparent. 

Learn their politics This only works for people who are financially involved in politics, but you can use the Federal Election Commission’s “Advance Transaction Query by Individual Contributor” to view political contributors in your neighborhood. You can search by name, city, state and ZIP code to generate a list of contributors to local political committees. This should give you an idea of your neighborhood’s political landscape and what parties your neighbors might support. It might also help you avoid awkward conversations at backyard barbecues.


Google to see if there are any condo or home owner associations.

A homeowner association (or homeowners’ association, abbreviated HOA, sometimes referred to as a property owners’ association or POA) is a private association often formed by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling homes and lots in a residential subdivision. Typically the developer will transfer ownership of the association to the homeowners after selling a predetermined number of lots. Generally any person who wants to buy a residence within the area of a homeowners association must become a member, and therefore must obey the governing documents including Articles of Incorporation, CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) and By-Laws, which may limit the owner's choices. Most homeowner associations are incorporated, and are subject to state statutes that govern  and homeowner associations. State oversight of homeowner associations is minimal, and it varies from state to state.


Google Earth the property to see if there is anything of interest around it (gun ranges, train tracks, etc.)

1.  Download and install the Google Earth program from the Google Earth download page

2.  Perform searches from the search box at the top left side of the program. You can type a place name, zipcode or postcode (for US or Canadian cities), a town/city name, an airport (three letter code or full name) or you can even try to type in a latitude-longitude location (in decimal format). Once you press the Enter key, you'll be "flown" to that destination.

3.  Drag the map around to move from one area to another. Utilize the zoom out and zoom in options from the buttons on the right hand side of the screen.

4.  Turn the wheel in the top right corner to spin the item to a better understood angle. Whatever angle you choose, the angle will have to work best for you. Change this location even more by clicking the button in the center of it. You can change between Land mode and views from above. Sometimes, this can be useful!

5.  Change views. To move from an aerial view to a view as if looking from the Earth, use the horizontal bar in the right hand corner.

6.  Look for the date the picture was taken from the bottom left hand corner of the screen. And scroll through the dates to see all the satellite images from different days of the year. Zoom to a place on the map where the satellite image has a date, click the "View" menu from the menu bar and click the "Historical Imagery" button to enable the feature. Drag the location of the toggle slider switch in the top left corner to a different date and see what the area was like. (Yes, now you can see what New Orleans was like after Hurricane Katrina, or one of the many famous historical times that date back to 1990!)

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