Understanding property searches when buying a new home

Posted on: November 24th, 2016

As part of the conveyancing process we will carry out a full set of searches on the property you are purchasing and provide you with a comprehensive report to help you understand the results.

We ensure that all search results are received before proceeding to an exchange of contracts. This is because at this point you become legally bound to the transaction and will no longer be able to re-negotiate the price or withdraw from the transaction due to adverse search results.

Below is an outline of the searches we will carry out on your behalf:

Chancel Repair Search/Indemnity

Chancel repair liability is a legal obligation on some property owners in England and Wales to pay for certain repairs to a church which may or may not be the local parish church. As part of our search package we will provide you with Chancel Indemnity Insurance which will protect you against financial loss should a claim arise in this regard, however the search does not confirm whether a liability exists in practice. We opt to obtain the insurance in the first instance as this saves you money compared to ordering a search to establish liability and then obtaining the insurance if required.

Local Authority Search (also known as local land charges search or local search)

This is a search of the local councils records and relates specifically to the property you are purchasing. This search will identify matters such as planning approvals/consents, building regulation consents, road adoptions and tree preservation orders.

The search is designed to reveal any potential problems or issues with the property and the surrounding area, enabling you to make an informed decision on the current state of the property and to provide important information that would potentially influence the future use of the property.

Environmental Search

This search will provide you with relevant history of the property and other environmental information for example the risk of flooding and subsidence. The search will also reveal other environmental issues affecting the property such as radon gas and any proposed sustainable energy developments, such as wind farms, in the local area.

On receiving the results of the environmental search you may want more information on a particular issue and further searches, such as a specific flood search. This is something we would be happy to discuss with you.

Drainage Search

This search is lodged with the regional water company and will reveal whether the property is connected to mains water, mains drainage and ‘surface water drainage’. It will also reveal if the property is connected to a water meter.

In addition the search will show whether there are any publicly maintained drains running through the boundaries of your property. This is an important issue, as building near some types of pipes without the water company’s approval is an offence.

Mortgage lenders

It is important to remember that if you are borrowing money to finance your purchase it will normally be a condition of the advance that you obtain certain searches. This may also be the case if you are remortgaging with a new lender.

If you are a cash purchaser you are able to opt out of ordering searches, but please bare in mind that we will not be able to advise you on any of the above and you risk issues coming up post-completion. 

If you would like any further information please contact Amy Clatworthy in our Residential Property team on amyclatworthy@coffinmew.co.uk or 023 9238 8021.

We offer a free, no obligation residential conveyancing quote sent to you instantly by email. Complete our Conveyancing Quote Calculator on the right of this page or at the bottom of our Contact page.