25 January 2024

What Are Searches And Why Are They Needed?

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In the context of buying a property in the UK, “searches” refer to the process of obtaining information about a property and its surroundings to ensure that the buyer is fully informed before completing the purchase. Searches are typically conducted by a Solicitor or a conveyancer on behalf of the buyer. These searches are crucial because they reveal important information that may affect the property or the decision to buy it…

There are several types of searches that are commonly carried out in the UK property buying process:

Local Authority Search: This provides information about the local area, including planning permissions, building regulations, and any planned developments. It can also reveal if the property is in a conservation area or if it’s affected by nearby road schemes.

Land Registry Search: This confirms the seller’s legal ownership of the property and provides details of any mortgages or charges on the property.

Environmental Search: This assesses the risk of contamination on or around the property. It can include information on previous land use, the presence of hazardous substances, and potential flood risks.

Water and Drainage Search: This checks whether the property is connected to the mains water supply and sewerage system. It also assesses the risk of water-related issues such as flooding.

Chancel Repair Search: This search determines if the property is liable for chancel repair payments. In some cases, property owners may be responsible for contributing to the cost of repairs to the local church.

Mining and Subsidence Search: This looks into the history of mining in the area and assesses the risk of subsidence, which could affect the stability of the property.

Most mortgage lenders in the UK typically require purchasers to obtain searches as part of the property buying process. Mortgage lenders are keen on ensuring that the property is a sound investment and that there are no hidden issues that could affect its value or the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage. The information obtained through searches helps both the buyer and the lender assess potential risks associated with the property.

Lenders often make it a condition of the mortgage offer that certain searches, particularly the local authority search and land registry search, are conducted. These searches provide information on issues such as planning permissions, property ownership, and potential legal or financial encumbrances on the property.

While some lenders may require specific searches, the exact requirements can vary. It’s essential for the buyer to communicate with their lender and legal representative to understand the specific searches that are necessary for the mortgage application. In many cases, lenders may have a list of approved search providers or requirements that must be met.

Even if a lender does not explicitly require certain searches, it is generally in the buyer’s best interest to conduct thorough searches independently. This helps uncover any potential issues and allows the buyer to make an informed decision about the property purchase.

Though not a legal requirement for cash buyers, it’s recommended searches are obtained as they provide valuable information about the property and its surroundings, helping buyers make informed decisions and uncover any potential issues.

Searches are typically obtained from various sources, including local authorities, the Land Registry, environmental agencies, and other relevant bodies. Due to the information in searches being held by third parties, the time it takes for them to be completed can vary greatly depending on demand.

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