Everything You Need to Know About Property Searches
You’ve found a property that you love in the perfect location. Perhaps it’s just what you were looking for with the right number of bedrooms and the perfect garden, so you make an offer. But once you start the conveyancing process, there’s more to it than simply how the house looks and feels. There is a lot more involved with finding out if a property is a perfect option for you aside from the first impressions of it that you get from the outside or inside.
Along with surveys that are important to determine the structure and condition of any property, you will also need to carry out searches about the history of the property, the land that it’s built on, and its location. The purpose of carrying out these searches is to ensure that you are fully aware of anything that might negatively affect the property, either during the time that you are living there or should you decide to sell it in the future. Failing to conduct property searches means that you are at a higher risk of running into potential problems in the future, some of which could even end up costing more than the property’s full value.
What Are Property Searches and Which Ones Do I Need?
There are various search types that will typically come as standard during any conveyancing process. And, depending on where your property is located in the UK and what is nearby, you may also require further additional searches.
Local Authority Searches in Affluent Areas of London:
If you want to purchase a home in London with a mortgage, it’s very likely that you will be required by your mortgage provider to carry out a local authority search. But even if you are a cash buyer, it’s still strongly advised. The local authority search will relate directed to any information regarding the property that you want to purchase. It involves getting information on any nearby planned roadworks or schemes, any property planning history, planning applications that have either been approved or refused, whether or not property development is permitted, information on public rights of way in the nearby area, whether or not the property is classed as a listed building, and whether the nearby roads are the responsibility of private residents or the council.
Environmental: Thames Water Property Searches:
Environmental searches are advised, particularly around the Thames area since they look specifically at the land that the property is built on and make environmental considerations within 500m that might have a negative impact on the property as a whole. This type of property search is usually required if you are purchasing a property with a mortgage, although it’s still advisable for cash buyers to have it done. It’s very important to consider an environmental property search since while it might not seem likely that any issues will lead to lasting problems, the cost of this search is very small compared to the potential cost of repairing problems caused by environmental issues such as natural ground subsidence or flooding. There are various types of information that will be gathered during an environmental search including the risks of contamination, flooding, and subsidence. Any landfill sites, waste management sites, or other sites where hazardous materials are disposed of in the nearby area will also be considered in terms of any effect that they may have on the property. A flood report will be essential if you want to move into a property that is located close to the River Thames.
Other Search Types Offered By Assured Property Searches:
More enhanced property searches can also be ordered to look at various factors, such as whether there are any planning applications on other properties located within 250m of the property, and whether there are any current or planned electrical transmission lines or telecommunications masts within 500m of the property. Some other search types that you can order for a property you are considering purchasing include:
What are Energy and Infrastructure Searches:
Any proposed energy or infrastructure developments that are due to take place nearby to the property location could have an impact on the value of the property overall. A conveyancer such as Assured Property Searches would look for a wide range of development types during this search, including but not limited to the development of wind farms, solar farms, fracking sites, sewage works, or the HS2 high-speed rail development.
What are Drainage and Water Searches:
This type of search can be very useful in finding out where your water supply to the property will come from and how the drainage and sewerage systems that your property will use are going to work. It is also used to identify the mains water supply for your property, where it is located, and whether or not this is likely to present any potential planning issues for the future. The search will also consider whether or not any of these factors pose any level of risk to the safety and condition of your property in the future.
Chancel Repair Cost Searches:
Chancel repair costs are applicable if the property is located on parish land. Owners may be responsible for covering the cost of the upkeep of the local church. This search is relevant to any property owners that are located on ‘rectorial land’, as even if you are not involved with the church, owning the property may mean that you are legally responsible for various repair costs. If you wish to buy a property where chancel repair liability costs apply, you can obtain insurance cover to pay out any costs you are liable to pay to the church.
What are Mining Searches?
If you are looking to buy a property that is located in an area where mining has occurred in the past or there are plans for mining to take place in the future, this is an important type of search to consider. Mining can result in gas emissions, hazardous water supply contamination or subsidence, and there may also be excavated tunnels located beneath the property. These searches apply to coal, clay and tin mining. Fortunately, they are not usually applicable to many UK areas.
What are Land Registry Searches?
The land registry search will verify that the current owner of the property is actually registered as the owner. It will not be possible for your conveyancer to register an interest in the property for thirty days after anybody else has indicated their interest in the property, regardless of their intent to purchase the property. This process is designed to ensure that once you buy the property you will enjoy exclusive ownership ready for the title and deeds to be transferred to your name once the sale is completed.
How Long Do Property Searches Take?
The length of time that it will take to complete the various property searches will depend on a wide range of different factors. For example, properties that are chain-free and unoccupied that you plan to buy without a mortgage could take as little as 2-3 weeks for the entire conveyancing process. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is quite a rare situation to come across. Typically, the more people that are in the chain, the longer the conveyancing process is likely to take. The searches themselves will depend on a range of factors including the conveyancers that you are using and their demand. The time of year will also play a part as certain times of year are more popular for buying properties, meaning that purchasing a property at certain times of the year can sometimes result in quicker searches compared to others. Some searches can be done in as little as a couple of days depending on the local authority and the number of search requests that they are dealing with. Finally, you will also need to consider the type and number of searches that are required on the property. A property that is located near water, for example, is likely to require more searches compared to one that is not and will, therefore, take longer for the conveyancing process to be completed.
Do I Need to Get Property Searches?
In most cases, mortgage providers will require certain property searches to be carried out before they will approve your application. But if you are a cash buyer, there is no requirement for you to conduct searches, although it’s highly recommended that you still do so. If you do not carry out any local authority searches, it’s wise to take out specific no search indemnity insurance instead, to ensure that you are covered in the event of any potential problems arising that may have been spotted over the course of a property search.
It’s important to bear in mind that property searches are likely to show up some factors about a property that you may not have thought about or realised earlier. Regardless of the results, discuss them with a good conveyancer and seek an expert opinion. Now you’re ready to conduct the various necessary property searches, take a look at the properties we have available for sale in the London area.