Property Searches: Additional Searches
When buying a house, depending on how you intend on financing the purchase, you will need to consider having property searches carried out. All mortgage lenders require a basic set of searches carried out for all properties they lend on. Then depending on the geographic location of a property and the results of basic searches, some additional property searches may be required. If you are buying in cash, although not compulsory, it is important to consider searches before dismissing the idea out of hand. Having searches carried out before exchanging contracts with your seller allows you to raise enquiries based on the results. For example, if the property is found to be at risk of flooding, you can instruct your solicitor to raise an enquiry with the sellers about whether the property has been subject to any flooding during their period of ownership. It also allows you time to check with insurance providers to see if the premiums are likely to be excessive
I am buying a house, which searches do I require?
The main searches, being Local Authority, Environmental and Drainage and Water search, will give you a good understanding of the property you intend on purchasing. Subject to the results of these and where your proposed property is located, then you may need or want more detailed searches.
Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to guide you through the searches best suited to you, the circumstances of your transaction and your property, including what additional property searches might be necessary.
What information is revealed on the basic property searches?
A local authority search will reveal information about private and adopted roads, parking schemes specific local authority directives and orders such as smoke control orders, Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) liabilities on new developments, building regulation compliance, and notices or land charges. This search also includes information about whether the property is a listed building or lies within a conservation area
An environmental search will reveal information about the risk of contaminated land, flood risk, ground stability, renewable energy infrastructure and planning and transport proposals in the area.
A drainage and water search reveals information about the drains, sewerage, water and associated services to the property. Vitally, it can disclose the likelihood of these services running within the boundaries of your property. In most cases, it also reveals information about the water charging at the property, namely does it have a water meter. In some cases, it also reveals whether the basis for charging will change when the property is next sold. Therefore, will the water company insist that you have a water meter installed in the property when you take over ownership and the new bills.
What are the different additional property searches?
A planning search will reveal information about local neighbourhood planning applications, restrictions, change of use in land, mobile phone mast locations, sensitive environmental areas and more practical aspects of a property such as the council tax band and which Police force cover the area. This search will also feature details on retail and entertainment availability in the neighbourhood and also both Primary and Secondary school league tables.
Canal and River Trust Search
This search carried out with the Canal and River Trust serves a dual purpose. On one hand, it confirms any rights you have over a river or canal for mooring, fishing, drainage or for use as a water source. It will also confirm any financial responsibility you may have for the river or canal.
Chancel liability search
A chancel repair liability is a responsibility upon the owners of certain properties in England and Wales to contribute financially towards any repairs to a designated church. The specific church may not always be geographically that close to a property and therefore not always obvious. In some cases the liability is applicable to several properties, however there are instances where it can be against a single property, potentially leading to a hefty bill. By carrying out a search into any Chancel repair liability, you can decide whether it is worth obtaining indemnity insurance through your conveyancing solicitor.
The risk of flooding to homes has grown over recent years. It can be from obvious sources such as close proximity to rivers and seas, but it can also be from perhaps less obvious sources, such as flooding from excessive rainwater. Basic flood risk indicators can be seen on environmental and drainage and water searches, however for more detailed information, a flood risk search should be carried out. In addition, a detailed flood search can indicate any possible issues you may encounter when insuring your property, or securing mortgage finance on your property due to flooding. The search can also reveal any flood defence schemes in place within the local area. You can also find out more about impact of flooding and associated risks to a property in our article on the subject here
Coal and mining search
A coal and mining search is vital in certain areas of England and Wales synonymous with coal and mining industries. Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to guide you as to whether one is required for the property you are intending on purchasing. The search itself relies on the well documented history and maps of mining across the UK. The search will reveal any mining activities under the property, the risk of things such as subsidence and also whether any neighbouring properties have made any reports or claims of mining related issues.
Energy and infrastructure search
A detailed energy and infrastructure search gives information about energy installations in the area surrounding a particular property including newer developments such as solar farms and wind turbines. Other features searched for include fracking, shale gas sites, solid fuel extraction and exploration (eg oil, gas and coal) and power stations. The infrastructure aspects of the search focuses on the development of networks such as HS2 and Crossrail.
Underground railways search
This property search is London specific and will reveals details of infrastructure owned by London Transport both over and under the property in question. In addition, it will also reveal details of any rights or claims linked to the railway which affect the property or any proposed future works or repairs.
Additional Property Searches in Summary
The number of different searches that can be carried out on a property is fairly extensive. In the vast majority of cases, only the three main searches, being local authority, drainage and water and environmental, need to be carried out, with the additional possibility of a chancel liability search, to be on the safe side. The results of these main searches can then be used to indicate if anything more detailed need to be carried out. It is important to remember that if you are using finance to purchase your property, be it either a mortgage or bridging finance, then the decision over which searches are required will be at the discretion of your lender. Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to provide details about which searches you may require and as part of conveyancing formalities will provide a detailed report on search results, giving you the information, you will need to make an informed decision about proceeding with your property. If anything concerning is shown on the results, under standard purchase conditions, your conveyancer will raise enquiries with your sellers solicitor to establish more information which will then be shared with you in the report.