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What Searches Are Conducted When Buying a House?

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There is always so much to do when buying a house, and it can often be a concern if it will all get completed in a realistic timeframe.

Luckily, many of the aspects of a property purchase go on behind the scenes and don’t actually involve you much at all. For many people, this is a relief. Confusing terminology, stacks of paperwork and constant chase-ups can make it a headache for even the most diligent of people.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a property purchase that takes part in the background is the searches. There are around 5 common searches that take place with the potential for another 4 should they be required for the property. These 9 searches will also be preceded by some pre-contract enquiries.

Without the correct searches being completed, and then delivering the required results, the chance for you to secure the property slips away quite fast.

So, what searches take place? We took a look so that when you take the property plunge, you are fully aware of what is going on and why.

What are searches when buying a house?

Many of the searches that take place are common across all property types, but some will only take place if you are buying property in certain areas or buying certain property types.

In most cases, if not all, the local authority, environment, water and drainage searches will take place as a standard.

They are carried out by your solicitor and will look at whether there is anything that could impact the property you are hoping to buy.

They take place before contracts are exchanged and will enable you to find out a lot about the land and the property itself. The results can be what determines whether a sale will go through or not. Property searches are a good indicator of whether the house you are looking to buy will see you incur excessive costs in the future. Some people are willing to accept those costs, but will look to drive down the price of the property to offset that future expense.

Do I need property searches when buying a house?

It is highly advisable to ensure searches are carried out when you buy a property. Without them, you could find yourself purchasing a property that has several defects or living on land that has a high flood risk for example.

In the UK, if you are using a mortgage to purchase your new home it is a legal requirement to have searches carried out. After all, the house is technically owned by the lender until you have cleared the mortgage. If you are buying a property outright, the searches are down to you. It would be highly recommended to have them, though.

What searches are completed when buying a house?

As we touched upon earlier, several searches are completed when you buy a house. Some being more common than others.

This search is compulsory and will be divided into two parts. One looks at whether there is any debt registered against the property, whether the building is listed, or is in a conservation area. The other will look at whether your potential new home will be affected by planned road or rail developments, has breached planning permission or is on the contaminated land register. The cost of the local authority search can vary, but you could see fees ranging from £50 to well over £200.

This is another compulsory search and will discover whether any public drains or sewers are running through the property. Furthermore, it will also ensure that the property is connected to a public water supply and sewer, where the sewer is and where the drainage pipes are. Finally, it will investigate whether the water supply is metered or rateable. You could expect to pay a maximum of £100 for these searches.

The next of the compulsory searches for when you are buying a property look at many of the issues associated with the land itself. The results of the search will show how the land has been used in the past, whether it is likely to subside, have any flood risk or be prone to landslide. Without this search, you could find yourself unable to sell the house in the future as potential new buyers may uncover the problems when they instruct a solicitor to carry out searches. It is this search that will also uncover whether the property is built on contaminated land. These searches tend to be the cheapest of these compulsory searches and can cost you as little as £25.

What other property searches are there?

The previously listed searches are compulsory when buying a property with a mortgage but sometimes, the location of your new home could deem it necessary for you to have several other searches carried out.

One that is listed as compulsory but only when the location determines it is the coal mining search. If the new property is built on land that was previously used for coal mining, you will need to have this search completed. It investigates things similar to the environmental search and will check how stable the land is.

As mentioned, other searches are not compulsory and should only be requested if needed. Taking on other searches that aren’t needed may sound like you are playing it safe, but will be a waste of money as they have no bearing on the purchase of the property.

These other searches include the following.

Commons registration

If the property you are looking to purchase borders common land, it is recommended that this search is carried out. If you do not opt for it yourself, your solicitor may encourage it, especially if you are purchasing agricultural land.

Chancel repairs

In some areas, the upkeep of the local church is partially covered by residents. A chancel repairs search will inform you of whether you will be liable for a contribution towards the repairs and maintenance of the church.

Land charges

If you are purchasing land and it is unregistered, this search uncovers whether there are any bankruptcy proceedings against the current landowner. It will also indicate if there are any restrictions on how the land can be used.

This is a search that will likely not be needed, however if the property you are buying is situated near where the works on the high-speed railway will take place, this search is recommended.

How long do property searches take?

The number of searches you need will determine how long it takes for them to be completed. We looked in depth at how long property searches take in a previous blog. (Link to be included once approved).

As long as you are prepared in advance and assist with any questions that the solicitor has, the searches can be completed relatively quickly. Some searches can be completed in as little as 48 hours, others can take weeks. 6-8 weeks is certainly not uncommon.

They can be made quicker if you opt for what are known as regulated searches. These are carried out by professionals that are experts in the various searches and have indemnity insurance applied to them.

The more common searches are council searches and the information accrued is collated by the local authority and then given to your conveyancer.

Searches can take time and if you are in a hurry to sell, a delay brought on by the searches can disrupt any chain there may be. Considering a company like SOLD.CO.UK could be an option, as we make selling a house easy. With no fees, no commission and all legal expenses covered, you can sell without fear of complications getting in the way. Contact us today and get a free online house valuation. Let’s get your house SOLD!

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