Homebuyers are always looking for clues to a home’s history. One question that comes up a lot is how many owners has this house had? That question implies that more owners is worse than fewer owners. I agree. With more owners you don’t know who did what, when and with more owners you have a higher chance of having had a weekend warrior with a toolbox and a case of beer working on the place.
As far as home histories go, realtors have two main tools in our toolbags. The first one is the MLS. If the house was sold through the local MLS in the past 30 years, we will have a record of that transaction. In the early years of the MLS, the details were not as robust and the listings came with only one picture, but at least we know when the house changed hands.
Another tool we have is title information provided through Geowarehouse, Property Line or another online portal. Since title changes hands when homes close, this is an accurate sales history.
New vs. old
New neighbourhoods tend to have a high churn rate. It is not unusual for a house in a recently developed neighbourhood to change hands a few times in the first twenty years. Then things tend to calm down. Older neighbourhoods have a very low churn rate.
Income generating properties tend to show poorly. Many landlords are only interested in taking the profit out of the house. When investor owners are ready to sell, the tart up the place again as cheaply as they can and unload it on the next investor.
But those are what they are. They are houses not homes.
But how many is too many?
Houses have to be judged on a house by house basis. I think the only real red flag that a house has had too many owners is that if the home has been sold and resold several times in the past two or three years. Then, I would like to know why.