What Are Searches and How Important Are They?

When you decide to buy a property, a conveyancing solicitor will carry out a number of different searches for you. These ensure that there are no issues regarding the house purchase that may affect you once contracts are exchanged.

If you are buying the house with a mortgage, your lender will certainly insist that you have the basic searches carried out. In certain locations, they may also ask for additional searches. An example of this would be if your property was built on a site that was previously used for mining.

1. Local Authority Search

A Local Authority search will reveal information that is held about your property by the local authorities, in particular, the Local Land Charges Register.

There are two parts to a Local Authority Search:

  • LLC1: This highlights whether there are any problems such as tree preservation orders or if your property is a listed building or in a conservation area. This can affect any changes that you may want to make such as adding an extension.
  • CON29: This covers any planning applications that may have been made and which are relevant to the property, any restrictions on permitted development, whether there are issues with the land, and any enforcement action that may have been taken against the property.

2. Title Search

A title search, in a nutshell, ensures that the person selling the property is the legal owner and has the right to sell it to you. It also gives information on previous owners and the amount the property was sold for as well as plans that show the general boundaries of the property.

3. Water and Drainage Search

You may not think about your drains and water supply when you are buying a property but it’s an important area, especially if you are planning something like an extension. A water and drainage search will also show what part of the drainage you are responsible for and what is handled by the local water company.

4. Environmental Search

An environmental search is not compulsory but it’s important to understand the history of the land your property was built on. For example, if it’s on an old landfill site, you may have future issues with contamination. There are a variety of different environmental searches available and much will depend on your location.

5. Flooding Risk

The risk of being flooded has increased with many properties around the UK, particularly those near rivers and coastal locations. This can have a huge impact on getting flood protection and whether you are able to get properly insured or not so researching the likelihood of flood risk to your property is hugely important.

6. Chancel Repair Liability Search

This is fairly rare but does apply to some areas in the UK. What it means is that you may be liable to provide monies to help repair the local church. It applies to the land the property is built on and isn’t dependent on the age of the home, so new builds can be equally affected.

There are a few other searches that your property may be affected by. For example:

  • If it backs onto a river, canal or stream you may have some financial liabilities.
  • If you are purchasing in a rural area, the local community may have certain rights to use the land.

It’s important to make sure that all the appropriate searches are carried out on the property you are intending to buy and your conveyancing solicitor will be able to advise accordingly. In the end, searches are there to give you (and your mortgage lender) peace of mind that there aren’t any issues which will affect the property once you complete and move in.

Want to know more or need advice or help to find the right property for you? Get in touch with the Graham & Co team. We also provide property valuations and you can use our quick and easy property search via our website.