Do I need property searches as a cash buyer?

Chatting about interesting articles to put on our blog the other day, Demelza Dunstan, one of our Property Solicitors at Penderlaw remarked “If I had a pound for every time I was asked this question, I’d be a rich woman!” So, let’s explore the answer to the question of the moment – Do I need property searches as a cash buyer?

A grudge spend

Perhaps often seen as a ‘grudge spend’, rather like insurance (and possibly lawyers!), property searches which turn up nothing can feel like a waste of money.  However, they are in fact quite the opposite.  As Demelza says, “If they come back with nothing, that’s definitely a good thing, and you can sleep soundly knowing that your property won’t flood, disappear down a mineshaft in the middle of the night, or have public rights of way across it you hadn’t known about.”

But I’m a cash buyer

All the risks which property searches are used to mitigate are heightened rather than lessened for cash buyers.  If you are buying with a mortgage, it is the bank taking a risk as much as you.  However, if you are cash buyer, you have that risk all to yourself, and if it all goes wrong, on your head be it. Even if you don’t experience problems yourself whilst owning the property, you may find it a different story when you come to sell.

Buying in Cornwall

Cornwall is a special place in so many ways, but it has additional challenges when buying a home. With its rich mining heritage, it is not unknown for back gardens to suddenly disappear down mineshafts or residents suddenly finding their bathroom no longer where they remembered it.   This rather shocking story from the BBC news website highlights this very scenario

The above news story demonstrates all too clearly the fact that, if you are buying in Cornwall, property searches are especially important as, on top of the usual drainage, local authority, and environmental and planning  searches, you will also have the option to include mining which can present a significant problem.

Cost vs Risk

In the grand scheme of things, property searches are not the most costly element of your transaction, and in proportion to the risks you run should something go awry, they are worth their weight in gold.

Types of property search and costs

The main searches which are normally carried out are:

  1. Local Authority searches which cover planning and building control regulations and any issues around the property with regard to highways i.e. road and rail.  They will also reveal whether the property is listed, subject to any tree preservation orders and if there is any planning enforcement.   
  2. Environmental searches cover whether the property has any history of flooding, subsidence, landslides and if the land has been contaminated in any way.
  3. Water and Drainage searches unsurprisingly cover whether the property is connected to the mains water and sewer and also whether it has a water meter. 
  4. Mining searches – obviously recommended when buying in Cornwall as previously mentioned.

Pricing for property searches can be found on the pricing page of our website here

So, there you are. It’s of course your decision, but we definitely encourage our clients in response to the question of whether they need property searches as a cash buyer that the sensible option is to have them!

Get in touch

If you are buying or selling a property, our friendly and experienced property team would be pleased to hear from you.  You can either call us on 01872 241408 or email