There are many steps before being given the keys to a new home, including something called ‘searches’.
If you’re a first-time buyer, it may seem to take an age between having an offer accepted and finally setting foot into your new pad. But without the correct steps and checks, you risk ending up with a problem.
One of those steps is to carry out searches that are carried by a conveyancing solicitor. It may seem like a pointless exercise, but they’re very important. Here’s why…
Searches when buying a home
If you buy a property and then discover a letter a year or two later saying work is starting on a new bypass in your garden, you’d be right to be miffed. This is why searches are so important. They not only outline planning issues, they also tell you more about potential problems, such as flooding and subsidence.
If you’re buying with a mortgage, then having searches carried out is compulsory.
Most searches are pretty straight forward, but if there are any issues, you can then decide your next step. It’s essential to find out as much about the property as you can so you don’t end up losing out or unable to sell in the future.
What searches take place?
Every home is different and some require more searches than others. Most homes needs local authority, environment and water and drainage searches.
Local authority searches
These are designed to uncover potential issues with roads, rail and building work either planned or already underway around your potential property. They include:
- Highways issues
- Planning issues
- Building control issues
- Whether your home is listed or in a conservation area
- Rail schemes
- Pollution issues
- Whether your property is subject to tree preservation orders
As the name suggests, environmental searches focus on the environmental aspects of your property. These look at:
- Flooding issues
- Landslike issues
- Contaminated land issues
- Subsidence issues
Any issues that are found could have an impact on the value of the property. They may also result in an increase in insurance premiums.
In the North East of England, mine-works searches are also carried out. As there were coal mines in most areas, the search specifically looks at whether old shafts and tunnels are likely to cause subsidence or damage in the future.
As in environmental searches, past mining activity may reduce the value of a property as well as affect insurance premiums.
Water and drainage searches
These searches not only reveal how the drainage systems work and which company is responsible for it, it also shows if there are any public drains or sewers running through your property.
Knowing this is helpful in case you’re planning a dream extension. You don’t want the foundations to interfere with sewer pipes!
This search also checks
- Whether the home is connected a public water supply and sewer
- Where the public sewer is and the location of drainage pipes
- Whether you need permission from the water company to extend the property
Land Registry search
This search checks the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry. It shows who the current owner of the property is and the sale cannot complete until this has been done. It usually takes place just before completion.
How long do searches take?
Some searches are returned within days while others can take weeks. There are various reasons, including the workload of your solicitor and how quickly each authority takes to return results.
Once returned, make sure you understand what the searches mean. You should ask your conveyancing solicitor to make clear anything you are unsure about.
If you want to know about searches when buying a home or have any other questions about your mortgage, contact us today.