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What is a Property Search?

When you are looking to buy a property the seller will show you lots of things like how many bedrooms there are, how large the garden is, the unique decor, but there are a lot of things they don’t tell you.

And this is where property searches come in. You will need a Property lawyer to act on your behalf when you buy a house to carry out various searches, including requesting information from the local authority, about the house you are planning to buy.

This is essential as some things are outside the seller’s knowledge. The searches are carried out to discover information that often isn’t obvious. It may not be that the seller is hiding anything from you; they may not even know the information themselves. However, it is a case of caveat emptor, in other words, let the buyer beware. The buyer purchases the property at its own risk and must do everything it can to satisfy itself on its property purchase.

The rule is not designed to shield sellers who engage in fraud or bad faith by making false or misleading representations about the property and there are certain legal protections. However, legal advice is essential to protect against traps for the unwary and to ensure that the contract documentation is drawn up correctly to protect a buyer.

Your lawyer will carry out a variety of different searches which could include the following:

  • Local search – the most common stand-alone search. This is to obtain information from the local council about whether the property might be affected by any changes to the locality – for example, plans for a new road, a neighbour’s extension, a planning enforcement notice or any proposed local development which, ultimately, may affect the price and saleability of a property. The expanse of green land that you can see bordering the boundary of the property, and which in all likelihood attracted you to the property in the first place, may be the subject of a planning permission enabling a developer to carry out residential development for 15 new houses.
  • Drainage and water search – this is to check that the property is connected for mains drainage and water supply or whether there are any private connections and the location of the pipes.
  • Flood risk report – very important to find out if your house is at risk of being flooded.
  • Environmental search – information about past land use and proposals which may cause potential contamination that may affect the house.
  • Coal mining and other mining searches – if your property is in a mining area, for example, coal mining, this search would show if it could be affected by the mining works – i.e. subsidence.
  • High-Speed Rail 2 search – making sure that your property isn’t going to be affected by the new rail line.
  • Land registry search – information to make sure that nothing adverse has been registered against the title to the property since it was first investigated at the outset of the transaction 
  • Chancel liability search – checking to see if you are liable for any maintenance to the local church.

Searches can be complicated if you are not sure what you are looking for or who to contact so it’s best to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to act on your behalf. They will ensure that only the necessary searches are carried out and will report on relevant information which may affect your property purchase.

Our expert team of Property Solicitors at Slater and Gordon have many years’ experience in all things property related. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9083 or contact us online and we will call you.

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