When you purchase a property, your Conveyancing Solicitor will recommend various local searches which they will request with the Local Authority or other third parties. This provides peace of mind with the buyer that there are no current or future issues which could pop up with the property, so it’s a marketable sound investment. It also allows the buyer to assess potential risks which may prevail before committing to the sale.
Some cash buyers may decide not to carry out any searches so your Legal Representative may recommend taking out indemnity insurance.
Many of these searches, also known as ‘property searches’ or ‘local searches’, are optional if the buyer wishes to pursue them. However if the buyer is dependent on obtaining a mortgage, then the mortgage provider may insist on the Local Authority Search.
What local searches can reveal?
The local searches can reveal issues which will need to be probed and answered which could impact if the buyer will renegotiate the sale price with the vendor or more pressing, withdraw from the sale:
- Land Registry search: This search will identify the boundaries of the property and may show a discrepancy between the information provided by the Estate Agents and that of the Title Deeds. It could affect any potential planning or building which the buyer may wish to instigate and this could result in potential disputes. In addition, it shows the registration of the property; so if it’s not registered then you have no guarantee that the vendor has ownership and this will need to be completed.
- Local authority search – There are many elements to the Local Land Register Search (LLC1) and optional part (CON 29). It could reveal up to 12 challenges given the number of categories it explores. For instance, the ‘Draining and Water Search ‘could present issues with the water drainage or the sewers and your utility company many not cover this as it’s dependant on where it’s located. Additionally, the infrastructure of the drainage and water is important when planning any potential building work.
Additionally, unforeseen challenges could arise from the ‘Environmental Search’ to reveal contaminated land, water issues or a nearby landfill site. This could present toxic gases, flooding or subsidence, and could affect the mortgage application and ability to obtain insurance for the property.
- An additional search worth considering is the ‘Chancel repair search’ whereby the property owner could be liable for unlimited charges to the chancel of the church if you are not protected with appropriate insurance.
Additional searches and surveys to consider when buying a property
Don’t just rely on local searches, as there is a range of additional searches and surveys which you may need depending on the location of your property and other influencing factors such as age and history to consider:
- Surveys on the property: Searches do not provide you with information on the property itself such as structural information, condition and defects of the property which could influence its value or rebuild costs. There are reports available which provide this level of information; The RICS Homebuyers report, RICS Home Condition report or a Builders Structural Property Survey (recommended for larger and older properties). The detailed structural report could indicate damp, subsidence or dangerous old wiring.
- Planning Search: If you are interested in developments in your local neighboured or the plans of your adjoining neighbour, then you can find out current or future developments up to a 250 mile radius of your property with this search. Developments may be a planned shopping centre, changes to your local school or extensions planned for your neighbour. In addition, this search will provide the plans of your Local Authority as local amenities could be important to you.
- Relevant geographical searches: Additional searches may be necessary if you are aware of previous history to the land or key influences could impact your property. For instance, it could have been a previous coal mining community in the area, resulting in potential subsidence to properties. If there has been subsidence and a claim was made and paid out in the past, then another one can’t be submitted for the property. Subsidence can also cause problems with your mortgage application, if relevant.
Other regions could have history of mining such as Cumbria for Gypsum mining or Devon china clay mining and specific searches can be progressed. (I.e. China Clay Mining Search, Coal Mining Search). Others are also accessible such as the Cheshire Brine Search, Limestone Mining Search, Lead and Tin Mining Searches.
- Common Registrations search: If the property is on the land of a village green or in the borders of common land, then the Commons Registration Act 1965 prohibits the property owners from any building and this search could indicate this restriction.
- Conveyancing High Speed2 rail (HS2) search: There Is a specific search which an individual can ask for in relation to the high speed 2 rail network route and plans. There are mixed messages that for some geographical locations, dependant on the proximity to the route, that it could inflate the property price whilst for other areas there are compulsory purchase schemes in place. The search will also provide all plans of the route as well as any information regarding the impact of this on the property.