How do I get history on a home?

Asked by Pat, Indianapolis, IN Mon May 11, 2009

I am very close in closing on a home. when looking for insurance, one of the insurers told me there had been a previous claim of water damage on the property. How do I find out what specifically was wrong with the house in the past. The insurer would not give up more information. I also tried CLUE, but because I do not own the home yet, I could not get information. What should I do? During the inspection, I did not se any water damage.

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FarOutWest’s answer
FarOutWest, Home Seller, Springfield, MA
Mon Jun 7, 2010
Call the seller directly. Explain that you have learned that the house has suffered water damage, and that you need a copy of the CLUE report and all information that the owner possesses regarding the damage. If you suspect any lack of complete candor on the part of the seller, run, don't walk, from the transaction.

Don't rely on the home inspector's report. Home inspectors are, as a general rule, incompetent, in collusion with the realtor, or both.
2 votes
Jim Goff, , Germantown, MD
Wed May 26, 2010
Hi - As a realtor I see this often. Here is the way I see it working. Firsst if you have a home that you are wanting to purchase if it had a 'water claim' it may be on the CLUE list so if you did not know that and continued the process of buying that home - all of a sudden your insurance carrier would say 'boo, hiss, bad this house is on the CLUE and if you want me to cover the insurance it will cost you more than normal. So if you are considering the purchase of a house and have identified it - select a home insurance company and tell them that you are considering allowing them to insure you new house but you need to know if the house in on the CLUE list. It has been my experience here in Maryland that they will do that. Your agent can not get this for you the person that is going to apply for an insurance pollicy is the one that has to make the request.
1 vote
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon May 11, 2009
Hello Pat and thanks for your question.

If you are working with a real estate professional, ask for a copy of the CLUE report for the property that you wish to purchase. The sellers should provide a copy to you, or, if not, offer to purchase the report if the sellers will order one for you. Water damages and insurance claims are very critical issues for a buyer, and the cost of the report is extremely moderate--in most cases, it's only about $20-30 for the report.

Have your agent check to see if this report is included in the disclosures package to be provided by the seller, and , if so, the information may be included in the documents available to the Realtor on line.

Good luck and happy house hunting!

Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
San Jose, CA
1 vote
Steven H. Al…, , Bellingham, WA
Thu Mar 8, 2012
Hello Pat
I am writing this in response to the answer you received from Louis Peasley. He is correct in telling that you need to research every resource available to you in obtaining as much information about your prospective purchase as possible. However, as a home inspector, I take issue with him on several points. Firstly, after over 43 years as a general contractor, sub-contractor, and journeyman member of four respected trade unions, I do not consider myself incompetent. In addition, I am not, and never will be, in collusion with anyone. When I do a home inspection, my only concerns are the protection and safety of my clients, 99% of whom are home buyers. Many of my reports are over forty pages in length with as many as 100 color photos documenting all areas of concern. The fact is, I have had many home sellers do there best to hide flaws and problems with a home prior to an inspection. Due to the non-invasive and visual nature, by law, of a home inspection, there is the possibility that hidden damage may go undetected. On my own inspections, to date, this has not occurred. I also occasionally have done inspections for insurance companies to assess the full extent of damages to a property. Often, in the case of water damage, the damage is cosmetic and not structural. However, I have also found whole walls that were completely destroyed by wood decay rot, carpenter ants, or termites due to an undetected water leak that persisted for years. If a homeowner requests, I have scopes that can peer into walls to assess possible leaks or evidence of mold, or microbial growth. I have written many published reports and blogs on the issues that homeowners and buyers should beware of and look for when considering buying or selling a home, and for the purposes of home maintenance. I remain confident and proud of my work as a home inspector and of my ethics. In fact, all of the home inspectors that I associate with are above reproach. There are bad apples in every profession. I do not associate with them and do not condone anyone else's actions. Having said all of that, I suppose that the bottom line is that nobody is perfect. I know plenty of Louis'es that are not. Steven H. Allmann Allmann Home Inspection Services in Bellingham, Wa.
0 votes
Reema Sharma, Agent, Glen Oaks, NY
Wed Mar 7, 2012
ask your attorney to find it for you
0 votes
Erin Pearce, , Orlando, FL
Wed Mar 7, 2012
There should have been disclosure documents provided to you when you purchased it. Try contacting your previous real estate agent and inquire if they might have a copy. Good Luck!
0 votes
Ciro Traino, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Tue Mar 6, 2012
Hello Pat, well, I would start my asking my attorney to do a title search on the property. This can see if there are any encumberances on the tittle like a lien of some kind. The tittle search will also provide a tittle abstarct, which is a synopsis of the home. If you have any questions, I am a agent with Exit Top Properties, thank you and have a great day.

Ciro Traino
0 votes
Sean Redwine, Agent, Corona, CA
Tue Jan 3, 2012
Was this home owned by a bank or a traditional seller? If traditional seller they should have to disclose known material facts.
0 votes
John Dean, Agent, Somerville, MA
Mon Jan 2, 2012

In the state of Massachusettes the seller can complete a seller's disclosure document that should give you the updates on the home. It usually contains problems, work done etc. If you are looking for more information on a home you can always check with the town or city hall to see what permits were pulled for the property and I have even had clients talk with neighbors.

All other questions I would search out during the home inspection and always call in an expert if you need to. Home inspectors give you the basics if you feel there is an electrical problem or structural problem call in a electrician etc.
0 votes
Tara Stone, Agent, Clinton, NJ
Sat Dec 31, 2011
In New Jersey we have a Seller's Property Disclosure that covers the current owners knowledge on issues like this. Ask your agent if the seller's have completed something like this for your review. Good Luck ~ Tara
0 votes
Stacey Jewett, Agent, Bloomington, IL
Thu Dec 29, 2011
I would have your realtor call the sellers realtor and just ask if ther are aware of any past water damage.
0 votes
Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Thu Dec 29, 2011
Contact your agent and have him discuss this with his client the sellers and request further information. If that does not work, use your attorney and have him write a letter to the sellers attorney to get further information. If the seller had previous water issues, that should have been disclosed on the property disclosure form. You may need to do a more through inspection of any living area below grade. Also you can check with the neighbors in the area for additional information. Home inspections don't allow for opening walls to check for any water damage. Your agent and home inspector can help you find professional help in this area because they work for you .

All the best,
Gary Geer
0 votes
Gerard Carney, Agent, Spring Hill, FL
Mon Jun 27, 2011
What if there were water damage, if it has been repaired and no longer is visible or pose a structure problem then what is there to know? If you need to know, as the seller, tell them an insurance agency says there is a claim on file!
0 votes
Brandon Rimes…, Agent, Tampa, FL
Fri Jun 24, 2011
You should contact an agent to complete a CMA/BPO for you... this will give you an indication of what similar homes are selling for....
You will need to make sure you are accounting for all types of features including but not limited to Bed rooms, bath rooms, garage, pool, square footage, land size, age, road/intersection and other important statistics... 813-917-1894
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0 votes
Jeffrey Cotn…, Agent, Canal Winchester, OH
Thu Jun 23, 2011
Going to the seller is the best option. I will tell you as a firefighter/paramedic for the past 25 years and now a realtor selling homes in the area i worked. You will never know everything that happened in that house. Just the fact. Thats is why a GOOD home inspector is well worth the money.
0 votes
Diane O and…, Agent, Franklin, TN
Wed Jun 22, 2011
Your insurance agent can run a CLUE report for you. That should detail the damage. I am not familiar with the laws in Indiana but here in Tennessee sellers are required to complete a property condition disclosure and report such damage.
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0 votes
Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Wed Jun 22, 2011
Have your agent contact the seller's agent and request a copy of the CLUE report. If they don't have it their insurance agent can get it for them. If you are dealing direct with the seller call them an request as above. Whenever a claim is made they have records.

All the best,
Gary Geer
0 votes
Spirit Messi…, Agent, Tucson, AZ
Tue Jun 21, 2011
Several ways, work with an agent and or Realtor. You are looking for the CLUE report, or insurance history report. You will NOT get one on REO, just FYI. You should also get a SPDS (Seller Disclosure Statement) unless, again if it is a REO (Foreclosure). A lot of buyers do not realize they are trading a lower price on REO for LESS information, like what you are looking for which should be disclosed on SPDS from sellers. IF it is not, well you can see them in court.

Work with a local agent or Realtor, it will help. Best of luck.Spirit
0 votes
Patty Smith, , Indianapolis, IN
Tue Sep 14, 2010
You need to get your agent to ask the listing agent to get the sellers to provide you with a CLUE report. If something really bad has occurred earlier, like fire or flood, they may not comply. For sure, get very good inspector. The money you spend on an inpection is worth it's weight in gold. You have Got to have it. Call me if you need help. If you have an agent, just talk to him/her.
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0 votes
Jackie Lovell, Agent, Indianapolis, IN
Wed Sep 8, 2010
If you had found out about the claim from your insurance company within a time frame that was still within your inspection response period you could easily have added the question to your inspection response. That way the seller would have to respond with as much detail as you requested. If you missed that dead line and have already completed all inspection responses.. Then I would say to just put an addendum together requesting the seller to give you all the details of that claim and copies of any and all receipts that pertained to it. I am kind of surprised your insurance company wouldn't investigate further for their protection, but if it is on the clue report as having been repaired and inspected to satisfy the repair was done then they probably are okay with it. If there had been any questions of it's completion they would have required proof of repair completion in order to insure the home for you. (I hope this helps)
0 votes
Ema and Mitko…, Agent, Greenwood, IN
Wed Jun 23, 2010
If you have a real estate agent working on your side, your agent should be able to get the answers for you. I believe that at the time of writing the purchase agreement, the buyer can ask the seller to provide a report from CLUE.
0 votes
Diane O and…, Agent, Franklin, TN
Wed Jun 16, 2010
You should contact your homeonwers insurance company and provide them the address of the property. They will pull up the CLUE report. Do this during your home inspection period as if there was/is a problem you can still ask the homeowner to make any necessary repairs or financial compensation.

I know a number of folks have said look at the property disclosure, but the owner may not know what happened in the house prior to his/her purchase of the home.
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0 votes
J kersey, , Greenwood, AR
Mon Jun 14, 2010
This claim could have been anything from minor damage to a complete tear down and re-build...It is important to recieve an home inspection report on this home but don't rely on it completely...ask the neighbors!
0 votes
Judy Bealka, , Minneapolis, MN
Thu Jun 10, 2010
Ask for a property condition report from the seller or try getting more quotes from different insurers, one of them should be willing to share the info if they would like your business.
0 votes
Robin Hollid…, Agent, Virginia Beach, VA
Wed Jun 9, 2010
Hi Pat,
Have you tried asking your agent to call the selling agent and ask the seller about this? Also, have you done a home inspection, that. will tell alot about a home. Just some suggestions, call around and get other quotes and see if other companies will reveal that info. Sorry I couldn't help more.
0 votes
Laurel Grand…, Agent, Knoxville, TN
Sat Jun 5, 2010
Your contract should have contained a provision that the current owner furnish you with a CLUE REPORT and that it be satisfactory to you as the purchaser. Only the owner and the insurance co can get these. If your state requires a property condition report, flooding or water in the home should be on the report. You had an inspect and you say YOU did not see any water damage...what did the home inspector say?

It could be as simple as a malfunction of an ice maker or dishwasher, but you need to know. What has the listing agent said? Did they ask the owners for you?

Laurel Grandle, Broker EXIT REALTY KNOXVILLE 865 389 2551
0 votes
Sameer Bhatn…, , Allen, TX
Wed Jun 2, 2010
Try contacting the city and contact several different insurance agents, You might just have a agent that is not friendly and not willing to share information.
0 votes
Ken Fradkin, , 22153
Tue Jun 1, 2010
I would check with FEMA or your loan provider to see if the property is in a flood zone and would require flood insurance. Professional home inspectors have a moisure meter they can test for the presence of moisture in the home.
0 votes
Keith Manson-…, , Milwaukee, WI
Sun May 30, 2010
If you can not get the information from the insurance company, you might be able to get information from the city. If there was any significant work done the own or contractor might of pulled permits.

Keith Manson
First Weber Group
Certified Distressed Property Expert
Metro Milwaukee
0 votes
Sam Shueh, , San Jose, CA
Sat May 29, 2010
Insurance companies share a database and any adjuster can pull it.

Recently I got hold a report and actually was impressed how much and how far back they keep the info.
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Mon May 24, 2010
Ask the seller to request a CLUE report and provide it to you. If the home is uninsurable, you need to know that, and you deserve to know that.

The inspection often won't show water damage. It'll show visible damage. If there was water damage a few years ago and the drywall was painted over with primer and then paint, you probably wouldn't see anything. If there was still a problem, the inspector might have been able to detect areas of excess moisture. But--for example--if there had been mold which is now painted over and the area is dry, that'd be nearly impossible to detect. And yet the mold spores would still be there--behind the drywall. The point is: A home inspection won't uncover a lot of problems. They're well worth it for the problems they do uncover, but they're not a guarantee that problems don't exist.

You also should see whether the homeowner filed a disclosure or disclaimer (if he/she has that option) and what that said, if it was a disclosure.

If you're really concerned, knock on the neighbors' doors and ask whether they're aware of any water damage problems with the house. Just ask. You may well get some useful information that way.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
Sharyn Willa…, Agent, Blanchard, OK
Sun May 23, 2010
You need to ask the listing agent for a "sellers disclosure" statement . Unless it's a for sale by owner, or new construction, they must provide a disclosure of what is wrong or defective about the house...Good luck...If you have any further questions please feel free to email me at
0 votes
Amy & Dan Sc…, Agent, cleveland, OH
Thu May 20, 2010
Your insurance agent should be able to get details regarding any previous claim. If there was indeed a claim and it was not mentioned on the sellers' property disclosures, your real estate agent should address the issue as to why the sellers did not diclose it. Knowing there was previous water damage, your insurance agent may be required to get a mold test. It is certainly possible that there was a claim, the matter was properly taken care of, and you have nothing to worry about. Get the facts and address them according to what makes you comfortable. Good luck.

Dan Schuman
Web Reference:
0 votes
Francoise Be…, , Houston, TX
Wed May 19, 2010
As a licensed insurance agent and real estate sales person in the state of Texas, I can tell you that when agents run the clue report they get minor details as to any claim previously filed. Your insurance agent is able to print out this information and share it with you. It usually contains the date of the damage, if compared with the property previous owner records, you may be able to find out if the current owner new of the damage or not. Unfortunately non-invasive inspections do not reveal water damage; it is easily painted over. If the clue reveals a claim for flood damage, I would ponder about the purchase seriously. My personal experience has been the that previous flood damage is not always remediated appropriately, specially when not disclosed and that you will find at leat minimal amounts of mold on the back side of the drywall where the water damage occured.
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Wed May 19, 2010
County Tax Records records everything for 100's of years on any property.

Best tax roll prior property owners determine if you can locate them.

If home past inspections does it really matter?

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes
Karen Barrett, Agent, Angola, IN
Wed May 13, 2009
Pat: Because you are already involved in the process, it is most likely that subjecting the purchase to a review and approval of the C.L.U.E. report was not included, however, if you are still within the time frame to inspect the property, you may be able to take advantage of that portion of the contract to submit to the Seller a Response to the Inspections. Thus, the Seller will have to respond. However, in this instance, because a claim was made to an insurance company by the Seller, and through the discovery process of purchase you have found a potential latent defect, I would suggest a simple letter from your attorney to the Seller. Attorney's are usually reasonable in cost and in this instance, an ounce of prevention can go a long way. You definitely do not want to discover a mold issue as a result of the water damage later on in your occupancy. I would definitely suggest getting a legal opinion.
0 votes
Marita Topmi…, Agent, Indianapolis, IN
Tue May 12, 2009
Hi Pat,

You didn't see any water damage because the claim money repaired it. I've run
into issues like this when working with my buyers in the past. I always go straight
to the seller's agent and tell them I have been informed of the insurance claim. Then I ask for details
about the repair. Works like a charm.

Most agents are careful to provide disclosure and we encourage our clients to be truthful. After all
we are not here to sell one home and walk away with our fingers crossed. We are here till we

Best Regards,

Marita Topmiller
Broker/ Realtor
Indianapolis Area
0 votes
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