• Be sure to take photographs as quickly as possible after the casualty to establish the extent of the damage.
  • Contact the title company, escrow company or bank that handled the purchase to obtain copies of escrow papers. Your real estate broker may also be able to help.
  • Use the current property tax statement for land vs. building ratios, if available; if not available, get copies from the county assessor’s office.
  • Check with appraisal companies to locate a library of old multiple listing books. These can be used for “comps” to establish a basis or fair market value.
    “Comps” are comparable sales within the same neighborhood.
  • Check with your mortgage company for copies of any appraisals or other information they may have about cost or fair market value.
  • Tax records – Immediately after the casualty, file Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to request copies of the previous four years of income tax returns. To obtain copies of the previous four years of transcripts you may file a Form 4506-T, Request for Transcripts of a Tax Return. Write the appropriate disaster designation, such as “HURRICANE KATRINA,” in red letters across the top of the forms to expedite processing and to waive the normal user fee.

    • Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return
    • Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return

  • Insurance Policy – Most policies list the value of the building to establish a base figure for replacement value insurance.

  • Improvements – Call the contractor(s) to see if records are available. If possible get statements from the contractors verifying their work and cost.

    • Get written accounts from friends and relatives who saw your house before and after any improvements. See if any of them have photos taken at get-togethers.
    • If a home improvement loan was obtained, obtain paperwork from the institution issuing the loan. The amount of the loan may help establish the cost of the improvements.

  • Inherited Property – Check court records for probate values. If a trust or estate existed, contact the attorney who handled the estate or trust.
  • No other records are available – Check at the county assessor’s office for old records about the property. Look for assessed valued and ask for the percentage of assessment to value at the time of purchase. This is a rough guess, but better than no records at all.
Personal Residence/Real Property

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