The Importance of Property Searches

30 January 2019

During a property purchase, various searches are carried out, particularly where a mortgage is involved. These can include a local search, water and drainage search, environmental search and flood search.

Here is a quick guide.

There are three standard property searches which are undertaken and they are as follows;

'Environmental Search

This property search is carried out to determine whether the land will be contaminated. The actual investigation is undertaken by a company who specialises in these types of searches. This is a very important search because it will help determine the future risk of contamination to the land that you are hoping to purchase. A property on contaminated land means it will be virtually impossible to sell.

Water Drainage Search

This is a standard property search which is carried out to check which sewer the property is connected to. However, it also helps determine if the property has a public or private water supply and the subsequent billing of water usage (including drainage).

Local Authority Search

A local search will usually contain a vast amount of information from whether a road is adopted to planning permissions and building regulations to tree preservation orders and if the property is listed.

All the above searches should be undertaken prior to the exchanging of contracts. If an issue does arise, it means you have the option to pull out of the sale.

Additional Searches

Other things your Solicitor will request from your seller’s conveyancer include rights of way, disputes and boundaries.

Whilst the above searches are the main searches, additional searches may also be carried out. These include mining searches which are normally carried out if the land has previously been used for mining. Another popular search is to check if your property is adjacent to common land or a rural area.

This process can take anything from a few days to a number of weeks, but there is often more work to be done once the results are received.

For instance, following the results of a flood search, a lawyer will look for a ‘passed’ certificate and if there is any significant risk of flooding highlighted will raise further enquiries. An environmental search will highlight whether a property falls within an area with a contamination risk.

Whilst searches are required if you are purchasing with the aid of a mortgage they are not mandatory if you are a cash purchaser, as it is your own funds that will be at risk and not a mortgage lenders…. so it is your decision. But remember lenders ask for searches for a reason- to protect their investment.

If you are a cash buyer you are in a prime position, but don’t compromise this by cutting the searches. They will only set you back a few hundred pounds, but the consequences of not having them could potentially cost you tens of thousands or even more.