What searches will you need when buying a property?

Searches are an essential part of the property buying
process.   They are conducted on behalf of
both the purchaser and the lender by a conveyancer and the information provided
is designed to protect the buyer from any nasty surprises which could affect
the value of the property or make a property difficult to insure when they come
to own it.

Buying a property involves tackling a minefield of
information. Read our guide and get all the information you need to help get
you moving with confidence.

Are
searches necessary when buying a property?

The short answer is yes. They provide essential
information about the property and the surrounding area. They can be vital
towards deciding whether to proceed with the purchase or if a negotiation on
the price is necessary. A proposed planning application to build a new housing
estate on surrounding countryside could completely change the desirability of
your new home; not to mention changing the view!

In practical terms, when buying with a mortgage, you
cannot move forward with a number of lenders without having your searches in
place, as they will not release mortgage funds without them.

A 100% cash buyer can, in theory, purchase a property
without searches. However, this could be a big risk and is not recommended. Discovering
issues further down the line can be very costly, even making a property
unliveable in some cases.

What type
of searches do I need?

There are three main searches required when purchasing a
property:

1. Local
Authority Searches

These fall into two key parts:

The first is an official search of the Local Land Charges
Register. This gives the information that is registered against a property such
as:

  • If
    the property is a listed building
  • If
    the property is situated in a conservation area
  • If
    there are tree protection orders
  • If
    there are any planning agreements
    • The second search is answering a set of standard enquires
      as set by the Law Society and covers matters such as:

      • The
        planning history of the property e.g. extensions or loft conversions
      • Any
        outstanding or any breaches of planning or building regulations
      • Proposals
        for rail or new road schemes
      • Public
        footpaths
      • Any
        pending planning decisions such as new housing
      • Certain
        environmental factors, such as, if the property is on contaminated land or in a
        radon gas affected area.

      2.
      Environmental Searches

      Environmental searches look at the wider surrounding
      environment and are more in-depth than what is covered in the Local Authority environmental
      searches. Matters investigated include:

      • Flooding
        – this will look at the risk of river, coastal or groundwater flooding as well
        as historical flood events. If a flooding risk is identified a further report
        may be required.
      • Contaminated
        Land – this looks at the potential sites within a reasonable distance that
        could cause contamination of the property and its land. This will include landfill
        sites and industrial sites, for example.
      • Subsidence
        – this examines the risk of ground subsidence and will detail factors such as
        soil type and location of trees close to the property.
      • Energy
        – this looks at energy in terms of existing or proposed energy sites, such as,
        power stations and wind farms.

      3.
      Water and Drainage Searches

      Water and drainage searches cover information about the
      water supply and sewer connections to and around the property. It is not a
      legal requirement to have this but is often mandatory from mortgage lenders. The
      results may give rise to needing further investigation. It provides information
      such as:

      • Drainage:
        connections and distance to the public sewers within the boundary and near to
        the property, risk of flooding due to overloaded public sewers.
      • Water:
        Connection to the mains water supply, foul and surface water drainage, water pressure,
        quality of drinking water.
      • Location:
        A map of the public sewers and waterworks.
      • Responsibility:
        It will give the name and details of the companies responsible for the sewerage
        and water services for the property and who will be raising the bills.

      How much
      do searches cost?

      The cost of searches will vary depending on what searches
      you need, which conveyancing firm you use, and which Local Authority is
      providing the information. Charges can range from  £60 to  £350 per search, with
      some conveyancing firms providing a package to get a competitive overall price.
      It’s good practice to check which searches you need and ensure you know what
      you are paying for.

      How long
      do searches take?

      Searches can take around 3 to 8 weeks on average, but this
      will be heavily dependent on the Local Authority providing them. Once the
      searches are completed, the conveyancer will review them, provide a report, and
      detail any potential problems. This can be a slow moving and sometimes
      frustrating part of the process so its good advice to get this moving as soon
      as you can after an offer has been accepted.

      Who can help?

      As an online conveyancing network, we facilitate fast and
      efficient conveyancing solutions for our customers. We understand time is of
      the essence, so a core part of our service is not only to match you with the right
      conveyancer but help to start the searches process as soon as possible. The way
      we work can save valuable time and stress in the home buying process, keeping you ahead
      of the game.

      Get
      in touch!

      If you are looking to begin your new property journey,
      start by getting your free online conveyancing quote in seconds today or call
      us for advice.  Simply click here to go to our online
      estimator tool and find out how much your next property venture will cost you!

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