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Purchasing a Property: An Introduction to the Search Process

When you make the decision to purchase a property it is generally the case that your solicitor will carry out a variety of searches to help provide information about your property for you, and to provide reassurance to your mortgage lender.

Here we provide some key information about the process and what you can generally expect. Our Residential Property Department are vastly experienced in helping guide our clients through this process and the specific searches required for their property and particular needs.

Please contact us today on 01603 620508.

I am purchasing a property and my solicitor has requested a payment on account for searches. What are these?

Your solicitor will carry out various searches as part of the transaction. If you are purchasing the property with a mortgage, these will be a requirement and must be obtained. If you do not require a mortgage, it is entirely your decision whether you have searches carried out, although your solicitor will always recommend that these are obtained.

The standard searches that are carried out and are a requirement of any lender are:

  • Local Authority Search
  • Water and Drainage Search
  • Environmental Search
  • Other searches may be necessary depending on the location of the property. For example coal or mining.

What do these searches reveal?

The main points revealed in each search include:

  • Local Authority Search: Planning; building regulation approvals; notices or enforcement actions; traffic restrictions; traffic schemes; rail schemes; tree preservation orders; whether the property is listed within a conservation area or in an area affected by contamination or radon gas; grants for home improvement works or any other matters relating to the property. This would also confirm whether the road abutting the property is adopted and maintained by the Local Authority or if is a private road.
  • Water and Drainage Search reveals whether the property is connected to mains water, surface water and foul drainage and whether there is a main drain located within the boundaries of the property.
  • Environmental Search reveals any matters of an environmental nature, for example: whether the land is contaminated, within a flood risk area or an area of ground stability. This search also reveals planning applications within a 250m radius of the property, but this is only valid to the date the search was carried out.

It is important to obtain as much information in respect of the property and the surrounding area as possible, as this may affect your decision to proceed with the purchase. For example if you purchase a property which is listed or is located in a conservation area, there will be restrictions on what works can be carried out to that property.

How long do searches take?

This will depend on the Local Authority involved with the searches. Some will return a Local Search within a couple of days, however others can take several weeks.

The Environmental Search is usually returned within a week of submitting, while those regarding Water and Drainage are usually returned within two weeks.

Your solicitor will request payment on account for searches at the beginning of the transaction. This allows them to be requested at the earliest opportunity so not to cause any delays to the transaction if the search results are not received immediately from the Local Authority.

As well as searches, a survey should also be considered. If you are unsure of the need to have a survey or what level of survey to have, please speak to a surveyor for further advice.

If we can assist you with purchasing your property please contact us today on 01603 620508.

This article was produced on the 6th August 2020 by our Residential Property team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.