Conveyancing searches are a vital part of the house purchasing process but not many homebuyers understand what they are and why they are required.
Whether you’re buying your first home or you’ve moved several times you would familiar with the standard searches supplied by your conveyancing. The requirement for conveyancing searches often comes from the mortgage lender rather the buyer which can lead to apathy.
Conveyancing searches shouldn’t be treated as a tick box exercise to get approval from your mortgage lender. Purchasers should be analysing the results to ensure they understand the requirements and restrictions on the property. We’ve written this short guide to help any buyers who aren’t sure what are the different types of property searches a purchaser can request.
The main types of conveyancing searches are:
Local Authority Search
If you are buying a property with a mortgage, this search is compulsory. If you are not buying with a mortgage, proceeding without this search is unadvisable. This search is carried out through the local authority. The search will reveal various matters in relation to the property including footpaths, highways, planning, and building regulations. Different local authorities charge different amounts for searches in their respective areas. A personal search is carried out by a search agent and is normally faster and more economical than a local authority search purchased directly from the local authority.
Water and Drainage search
This will reveal the location of known mains water and sewers still existing through the land upon which your property is being built. Following changes in the legislation surrounding the adoption of private sewers in October 2011, it is now even more important to ensure that nothing has been built over a sewer. This search is compulsory if you are obtaining a mortgage.
Chancel Repair Liability
This is a liability that arises due to an ancient law where if a property fell into a parish of a certain type of church, the owners of the properties in the parish would have a liability to contribute towards the upkeep of the altar of that church. Even if the search is carried out there cannot be a definitive answer as to the liability.
Coal Mining Search
A coal mining search will reveal past coal mining works in the area and if there have been any issues with the land including revealing any old mine shafts. Again, in certain areas this is a compulsory search. A coal mining search is only applicable for certain parts of the country.
The law states that if any contamination is found on any land, the owner of the land at the time is responsible for the clean-up costs of any works. This search reveals past industrial land use on the property and provides information as to flooding and any industrial use within close proximity to the property.
Analyses the impacts from key risks to your property, including if it has been built on potentially contaminated land and what the land was used for in the past (petrol station, landfill etc).
Analyses the impact on your property and whether it is at risk of subsiding or if it has been built near a coal mine or other mine works. This will also look at whether your property could be affected by sink-holes or landslides.
Energy & Infrastructure
Analyses whether your property is near any infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Cross-rail. As well as checking if there are any potential Fracking sites nearby and things such as Power stations, Solar and Wind Farms.
Flooding and Drainage Risk
Analyses the impacts from key risks to your property including whether it is at risk of flooding from things such as nearby rivers, lakes, and the sea. It will also check historical data to see if the area has flooded in the past and if it is likely to flood again and whether Insurance can be obtained to cover this risk.
As a conveyancing search provider we work with law firms across the country providing specialist property data and reports. We always advise you consult with your conveyancing when requesting property reports as they will be able to explain to you the outcomes of the results.