Louisiana Division/City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Sources for Researching the History of Your House (Or Other Building) in New Orleans

The Chain of Title Search: Conveyances in the Land Records Division of the Office of the Clerk of Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans

Real estate transactions in Orleans Parish (1827-present) are registered at the office of Land Records Division (formerly "Conveyance Office") of Clerk of Civil District Court (1340 Poydras St., 4th Floor). The Land Records Division's website is http://www.orleanscivilclerk.com/lr_home.html.

The Louisiana Division holds microfilm of the conveyance records, 1827-1887; index, 1827-1900 (mf VW420). However, most researchers will need to begin their search in the later conveyances, housed only in the Land Records Division.

The search begins with a reference to the most recent deed of sale to the property. This information can be obtained from several sources:

  • If you own the property, your copy of the act of sale should contain a reference to the previous conveyance.
  • The website of the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors (nolaassessor.com) will provide access to, among other information, the sale date, sale price, the Conveyance Division's instrument number, as well as the Notarial Archives' act number (Documents filed after February 18, 2014 may also include or may only include an Universal Instrument Number.)
  • If the property was last sold subsequent to 1961, the sale should be recorded in Deedfax, a compilation of area real estate transfers. Copies of Deedfax are available in the Louisiana Division;
  • The Real Estate and Records Office (Room 5W02, City Hall) has ownership files on all properties in New Orleans. By presenting the clerk with the municipal district number, square number, and address of the property, you can gain access to a file that will, among other things, provide you with a reference to the most recent deed citation.

This reference to the most recent deed provides you with an entrance point into the title search. The reference will be in the form of, for example, "COB 409/FOL 361" where COB 409 refers to volume 409 of the deed books and FOL 361 refers to folio (page) 361 of that volume. References to more recent sales (beginning in 1989) use the Conveyance Division's "instrument number."

Indexes to both vendor (seller) and vendee (buyer) are available through 1988; indexing is computerized beginning with January 1, 1989.

The initial reference will give:

  • the date of the sale
  • the names of the buyer and the seller
  • a legal description of the property
  • the amount and terms of the sale
  • a reference to the act of sale itself which can be found in the Notatial Archives of the Land Records Division
  • a reference to the COB/FOL (or instrument number) where the previous sale was recorded

By repeating the process with the new COB/FOL and each prior reference, you will develop a "chain" of title outlining the history of ownership of the property.

In New Orleans conveyances are designed primarily to record the sale of the land in question. The structures or improvements on the land are generally not very well described. Many early records merely refer to the land "along with all buildings and improvements." No more detailed description of these improvements is given. Once the deeds no longer refer to buildings and improvements, however, you can usually assume that you have reached a sale dating from before there was any construction on the lot.

You should be careful that you are dealing with the same piece of land from one transaction to the next. Don't be misled by subdivisions or resubdivisions of a large piece of property, particularly if the same owner held several lots within the square. The price paid for the real estate may also provide you with clues. An identical piece of land with no improvements that resells in a relatively short period of time for a significantly higher price quite likely has had a new building erected on it.

You should not skip the chain-of-title portion of the research project. At the very least it will provide you with the overall framework of your property's ownership. By working within this framework through all of the other materials described in this guide, you will not only save yourself time in the long run, but you will also help to protect yourself from hasty conclusions and other mistakes that it is all too easy to make when you jump into the middle of a research project without preparing the necessary groundwork.

Remote access to the more recent records of the Conveyance Office is available through a fee based service. Information can be found on the Civil District Court website at http://www.orleanscivilclerk.com/onlinerecords.html


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