What searches are done when buying a house?

, by Matt Stevens

When you’re in the process of securing that dream property, there is a lot that can prove to be overwhelming. As such, it’s likely that your main focus will be directed towards simply getting into your new house and feeling relieved that you got a spot on the property ladder. After all, what with saving for a mortgage deposit being the ultimate test of time, money, and patience it’s easy to forget about the more specific details.

However, taking into account the complexity that’s involved with getting a mortgage, there are certain aspects of the procedure which you should be aware of. One of which refers to a series of checks that should be carried out on your behalf by your solicitor. Houses represent substantial investments, and so it’s important to ensure that you won’t have any unexpected and undesirable experiences as a new homeowner.

In essence, solicitor searches begin after you instruct your solicitor to carry out the conveyancing process, and these are required to be completed before you can legally purchase your chosen property. Likewise, it’s in a mortgage provider’s interest to schedule conveyancing because they need to be certain that there’s nothing which could affect a home’s value in the future, this playing a large part in their decision to lend.

Owing to the significance of solicitor checks, we strongly advise that you hire the services of an expert mortgage broker to make the necessary arrangements. We at The Mortgage Genie have assisted innumerable people in getting a mortgage, and are therefore familiar with everything associated with the task. If you want to guarantee that the home you’re buying is right for you, and also in saving yourself the attached stress by joining those among our success stories, then be sure to get in touch with us today at 01915809890.

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As mentioned, conveyancing isn’t something you yourself carry out, but it is worth knowing what exactly it is you’ll be commissioning, as well as what is being determined by the checks. It’s for this reason we’ve put together this piece that answers the natural question: what searches are done when buying a house? We’ll cover:

What are the main conveyancing searches?

Because properties are so variable, there is a wide number of searches which can be carried out during conveyancing. Not all homes will need every search to be conducted, albeit, there are main ones implied when we’re discussing the topic.

  • Local authority searches

Out of all the searches a solicitor can arrange, local authority searches stand as a principal type of search. As per the name, these searches regard information about a property that is held by the local authority’s records. This includes details on prospective planning permission as well as pertinent restrictions, who is responsible for the maintenance of nearby paths and road adjoining a property, and whether it is listed as being in a conservation area or subject to a tree preservation order. Essentially, local authority searches reveal where potential issues concerning road, rail, and building work may arise after you move in.

  • Land Registry searches

Land registry searches prove that the current owner of a property is actually in legal possession of it, and therefore entitled to sell. This proof consists in checks on the up-to-date ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry. Evidently, the sale won’t be permitted to go ahead until this verification is made. Likewise, there are bankruptcy searches to ensure the same selling eligibility. Land Registry searches typically take place before the completion of a home’s purchase. Subsequently, your solicitor will then register you as the new owner of the property.

  • Environmental searches

Environmental searches are vital in that they establish whether there are any relevant problems within the surrounding area of a property, i.e., whether there are any known environmental risks such as potential land contamination caused by chemicals, flooding, landslides, and ground stability issues, or indeed if there is a close-by landfill. Moreover, environmental searches also look into possible gas hazards. Due to the severity of such instances, your lender may insist on an environmental search and may not confirm your mortgage until one is carried out.

  • Water authority searches

Also known as water and drainage searches, enquiries into the local water authority include checks to make sure that a property is connected to a public water supply and sewer, where said sewer and drainage pipes are, and if you would need permission from a water company if you were to implement an extension. For example, if you had future plans to dig foundations in order to get a home extension for your home, but later found that there were public drains or sewers running through the property, then this would serve as a barrier. Consequently, it’s important to be so informed beforehand.

  • Other searches

Alongside the above main searches, there are other location-specific searches which we might advise you to organise. Such as, mining and quarrying searches if your new area has a history of this marked by capped mine shafts or old workings, a separate further flood report if details on river, coastal, groundwater, and surface water risks are necessary for a full risk assessment. And additionally, a commons registration search to see if the land you are going to purchase is common land, and thus subject to certain rights, a chancel repair search in case you would be liable to pay church repair contributions, as well as testing for the naturally-occurring radioactive gas radon.

How much do conveyancing searches cost?

Of course, there are fees to be paid to a conveyancing solicitor, and since you’ll have to pay them, it’s salient to know what they are. The cost of solicitor searches does vary from council to council, although we can make logical estimations for most:

  • Local authority search - £50-250

  • Copy of title register - £4-8

  • Copy of title plan - £4-8

  • Bankruptcy search - £2 per individual

  • Environmental search - £25-60

  • Water authority search - £50-100

  • Flooding search - £20-50

  • Copy of flood risk indicator - £10

  • Mining and quarrying search - £25-120

  • Chancel search - £20-90

How long do conveyancing searches take?

Prospective homeowners are often understandably eager to get inside their new house, and waiting for conveyancing searches to be carried out might seem like an inconvenience. Fortunately, the results of some select searches can be returned within just a few days. However, the length of time needed depends on the nature of the search, and so other checks can take up to several weeks to be completed.

Followingly, it’s integral to be aware of what searches you will require as part of your specific situation and circumstances so that these are afforded with priority position. Once you’ve commissioned the property survey, your solicitor will be able to tell you when exactly they’ll be done by. It’s good practice to chase your solicitor up on the progress of conveyancing searches every now and then, regular contact means you’ll know about any delays. Though, sometimes there is nothing you can do but remain patient and wait for each separate investigation to be completed.

Do I have to do searches before buying a house?

If you’re getting a mortgage loan in order to purchase a property, then the searches we’ve discussed are a legal obligation. Namely, because the bank or building society which is lending you the money is required to make sure that there aren’t any existing problems that will affect the future market value of the property.

On the other hand, if you’re purchasing a new house with cash, and so do not need a mortgage, then searches are optional. However, even if the latter applies to you, it’s likely that your solicitor will justifiably recommend that you get them to carry out particular searches for you, given the scale of what may otherwise be implied. At this point, it should be reiterated how sizable an investment a house is, meaning it’s worth guaranteeing that everything is right before you finalise the purchase.

The extra fees and charges that come with all mortgage products can total to significant amounts. As such, it’s important to know what exactly it is you're paying for, especially if you find it overbearingly complex. We at The Mortgage Genie have a comprehensive understanding on how to get a mortgage and are dedicated to helping people secure loans of all types, as well as providing apt advice on the preliminaries demanded. We hope that this article has shed light on the question ‘what searches are done when buying a house?’ and thereby made you more informed on the searches involved in conveyancing.

Every day we assist a growing number of people in achieving housing happiness by finding them a mortgage deal that’s tailored to their personal situation and financial circumstances, all while guiding them with each step of the lengthy process. If you’re in need of a team of expert mortgage brokers, then be sure to contact us at 01915809890 and we’ll get you on the path towards owning your dream property! And why not see how much you could borrow up to today by using our mortgage calculator?

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