Property Transfer List
Assessor's offices keep an index by parcel number or address that shows if anyone bought or sold the property within the past two years.
This index - called a Property Transfer List or sometimes a Property History Index - lists the:
- names of the buyer and seller
- date of the sale
- amount paid for the property (which might be listed as a documentary transfer tax that can be used to compute the sales price)
- recorder's office document number for the deed that was recorded when the property was sold
The recorder's office document number for the property deed can be especially helpful as a starting point at the recorder's office for doing more detailed research on the history of a piece of property.
California law requires that an assessor's property transfer list show ownership changes going back two years, but some assessor's office lists will go back more years.
Note: some assessor offices charge for access to the property transfer lists, which are updated periodically.