Most people seek the help of conveyancers or solicitors who are legally qualified to navigate the process of buying or selling a house. During this, conveyancers carry out exercises known as searches. This involves the investigation of the environmental quality of the area where the property is located, surrounding factors, and any future developments which will take place in the area.
Why are conveyancing searches important?
Conveyancing searches, also known as property searches, are checks which reveal as much information as possible about not just the property you are about to invest in, but also the area its located in. Conveyancers search for flooding and mining records, future projects and changes planned for the area, and other factors which impact many aspects of the sale, including the price.
Property searches are important in deciding whether the deal is feasible for a buyer. If there are infrastructural or environmental issues in the area or a disruptive construction plan in the authorities’ agenda, then the property value may suffer. This would put buyers at risk of losing money or getting stuck with a high maintenance property.
Additionally, it is also important to conduct these searches if you are making long-term plans for a property. Knowing what the future holds for your neighborhood plays a significant role in determining whether you see yourself as part of it or not. A plan to build a prison or hospital next to a property might reduce its desirability and value while also making it a difficult place to live. Consequently, knowing that your house will be surrounded by such facilities a few years down the line might make you reconsider. This is also a responsible and necessary way to ensure that your investment remains protected and you do not have to suffer a loss if you decide to sell in the future.
Being aware of the logistical factors of a property plays a major role in helping the buyer determine how they will need to structure the house and what the process will ultimately cost them. This means that if there are any issues such as drainage etc., you can account for the fixings you would have to install to adapt to the situation.
What are the different kinds of conveyancing searches?
There are various kinds of property searches that are carried out by conveyancers. The first kind is the Local Authority search. This is usually done to satisfy mortgage lenders and includes a series of documentation which describes what kind of an area the property is located in.
Next, there is the Planning search. This is done to examine the details of future developments in the area which are either planned or proposed at the time of the purchase. The search is focused on developments which would affect the property most directly and are within a 250-metre radius.
The Draining and Water search is conducted with the help of the local water authority. They provide information regarding who is responsible for the maintenance of the water supply and drainage as well as the state of sewerage connections for the property and in the area. It also reveals the position the house is in in terms of water supply and sewerage, to ensure there will be no difficulties in adjusting the drainage for the property. It also reveals information regarding what type of water source feeds the supply. The search takes one to two weeks to complete.
An Environmental search reveals whether the property land is contaminated and what it was used for in the past. It also discloses any other factors, such as air pollution, which might affect your property and your decision to buy it. It takes less than a week to conduct this search.
Flood Risk Reports are highly recommended if the property is located near a major waterbody. This search shares what the chances are of a flood occurring in the area and what sort of threat it would pose to your property. It would alert the buyer if there is a high risk of flooding in the area so they could either adopt measures accordingly or reconsider their purchase. The search takes a few days to complete.
A Coal search identifies whether the property area has any coal mining history or current potential. This is important as underground tunnels might result in a weak foundation for the property. It takes up to a week to carry out this search.
Brine searches are required in areas where salt extraction takes place. Once again, properties in such locations are at risk of subsidence.
Clay and Tin Mining searches are limited to areas where such activities occurred in the past.
High Speed Rail, also known as HS2, is a long-term project extending from London to Birmingham. This search is carried out to ensure that the property you are interested in will not be affected by or in the way of any of the operations for the rail link which will continue developing over these years.
A Chancel Repair Liability search is necessary if the property is located within a parish of the church which was built before 1536. Owners of properties in these areas are required to pay hefty amounts for repairs to the church. Therefore, it would be beneficial for the buyer to know this information beforehand and prepare accordingly.
How long do searches take?
The amount of time it takes to complete all these searches usually depends on the local authorities in an area and their efficiency. In the UK, the standard time is six to eight weeks; while some councils are quick to process the searches, others may take a while. Since there is no defined time limit for this process, it is usually the precedent and reputation of the local councils which give an idea for the duration. A conveyancer or solicitor may be useful in determining which bodies to appeal to in this situation.
What if I decide not to do a search?
If you qualify as a cash buyer, then you can forego the searching process. However, it is still highly recommended that you do so, otherwise conveyancers would suggest you apply for the No Search Indemnity Insurance as a backup.
Most of the conveyance searches mentioned earlier are, however, mandatory. The obligation to conduct them varies from region to region except for the land authority search.