Industry News

The ghosts of real estate past

Home detectives uncover history in houses, neighborhoods

The first house history that James Johnstone researched didn't uncover a grandiose story of former celebrity residents or the scene of a gruesome murder. The home was one of four houses built by a Vancouver, B.C., builder between 1908 and 1910 and was home to a Vancouver police detective, whose picture still hangs in the city's police museum. Johnstone, a Vancouver resident, has taken his curiosity of house histories and turned it into a business, Home History Research Services. Home histories are a new twist on genealogy research and are catching on around the country with homeowners and real estate agents alike. Researchers such as Johnstone trace a house's past by learning about such things as its original architect, past owners and any notable events that took place there. Known as home history researchers, house genealogists or even home detectives, the sleuths dig through public records, newspaper clippings and old photographs for clues. They piece together a house's history, so...