Property Searches: Do I need them?

Samantha Bellamy, Graduate Legal Executive at Penderlaw, talks through the different property searches you may come across and why they are necessary.

The process of buying a property can be daunting enough in terms of finding the house you want, negotiating the price, getting a mortgage, arranging a physical survey etc, and then of course, there is the legal process to go through too.  It may all feel a bit over-whelming, but there are some important reasons why these steps need to be completed.

One of the legal requirements of buying a property with the assistance of mortgage are conveyancing searches. We always also recommend that conveyancing searches are undertaken by our cash buyers. So, what are property searches and why do I need to purchase them? We explore this below.

At what stage of the buying process does a property search take place?
Property Searches are  conducted towards the beginning of the process, once the Contract Package has been received, as typically they take a few weeks to be returned. Searches are submitted electronically via our local search agents.

What will a property search tell me?
Searches help you to find things out about the property you are looking to buy which you can’t necessarily discover just by physically viewing the property or from considering the Legal Title. They are designed to give you background information you need about the property you’re looking at to make sure that there’s nothing which could affect your decision to buy.  Examples of these could be planning applications nearby, and details about flood risk. Some Buyers choose to wait for the result of their physical survey before proceeding with the searches but this depends on the timeframe agreed. With such an important purchase, it is sensible to know as much as you possibly can about the property you are buying.

What are the different types of property searches?

  • Local Authority Searches Local Land Charges such as local restrictions, any historical listing such as Grade II listing, existing planning permissions/constraints, enforcement notices served in respect of Planning, public rights of ways, and the extent of the highways adoption.
  • Environmental Search – check for ground contamination, subsidence, flooding predictions and radon gas. We also include the option of a Plan Search Plus to check nearby known planning application both on a small scale such as householder extensions but also larger scale developments such as a new housing estate, school or hospital.
  • Flood Risk – checking how likely your property is to flood. If you are having an environmental search done you won’t need a flood risk assessment as this is included in the environmental search, if the flood risk indication of that search is shown as high, an additional, more detailed flood search product can be ordered.
  • Water Search To confirm whether the property is connected to the mains supply and drainage. Also, to check who supplies the water to the property and deals with sewerage as this will affect any future extensions to the property
  • Chancel Repair Some homes are liable to help local churches with their repair bills, insurance is available for this but it’s good to know whether the property is located within a Parish which may be affected.
  • Mining Search This search will give an opinion as to whether the property is affected by past, present or future mining activity. Many parts of Cornwall are affected by this. We can also carry out other types of mining searches such as coal or brine depending on the location of the property.
  • Other area specific searches: At the point of submitting searches, the electronic search system we use will flag any recommendations based on the locality of the property, for example, it may recommend that a HS2 Search be undertaken if the property lies near the proposed line.

In addition to the Conveyancing Searches it is important that you arrange a physical inspection of the property by purchasing a survey to check the physical condition of the Property.

Buying a property is, after all, probably your most expensive investment, so it’s as well to ensure that you know all you can about it before deciding to go ahead!

Whether you are buying or selling a house our friendly and experienced legal team will guide you through all the different stages to ensure a smooth process and a successful outcome.

Click here to contact our property team.