Residential Property

Why are searches needed for a property purchase?

Why are searches needed for a property

Your home is probably your largest financial asset.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’re constantly on the move, our Residential Property Team will take the stress out of the conveyancing process for you.

We’ll keep you informed at every step and you can rest assured you have an experienced solicitor looking after your interests.

If you’re buying a property, you’ll need to have searches carried out. Our Licensed Conveyancer Jenni Shoreman explains why. 

Why do searches need to be undertaken?

A property is a big investment so you’ll want to make sure there are no nasty surprises further down the line.

Searches can reveal vital  information about the local area and infrastructure, environmental risks and potential new developments that you might want to know about before you become legally bound to complete your purchase. 

If you are taking out a mortgage, your lender will insist that these searches are carried out so a judgment can be made on whether the property is a sound investment. Anything unusual will need to be reported to your lender so they can decide whether to hand over the cash or not.

Local authority search

Using the local council’s records, this search will tell you whether there are any proposed property developments in the area, what planning consents have been issued in respect of the property, whether the property is listed and whether it is in a conservation area.

Water and drainage search

Enquiries of the local water authority are intended to establish that they are responsible for the water mains and sewers. This search will also identify whether the authority owns any pipes that run onto the property.

Environmental search

The last thing you want to find when buying a house, is that it flags up an environmental risk. Risks could include nearby premises that deal with chemicals, previous uses of the land, potential contamination, ground stability, landslips, nearby landfill or former landfill and whether the property is on a flood plain.

Flood report

A separate flood report can be recommended if this could flag information about any history of flooding and the potential future flood risk. It will include data in respect of a range of flooding, including river, coastal, groundwater and surface water risks. 

The main purpose of the report is to provide a risk assessment level and information about whether the property could be difficult to insure. If the risk of flooding is high, this must be reported to your insurer as well as to your mortgage lender.

Mining and quarrying searches

If you wish to buy in an area with a history of mining or quarrying, our conveyancer will be able to advise whether you need a search in respect of any of these issues. A search will generally reveal issues such as old workings near the property or capped mine shafts.

Radon testing

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in many areas, with higher levels in some parts of the country. It seeps into properties and can increase the risk of lung cancer where it is present in higher than average concentrations. 

An environmental search will generally tell you whether a property is in an area classed as a ‘Radon Affected Area’ by the UK Health Security Agency. You can ask for a radon test to be carried out to identify the levels of radon present and your solicitor can also ask the seller if they have had a test done in the past. 

While a test can be done over a three-month period, it is also possible to have a shorter ten-day test carried out. Where higher than average levels of radon are present, remedial action will be necessary to remove the gas.

Land Registry and bankruptcy searches

A Land Registry search checks the registered title to the property prior to completion, while a bankruptcy search ensures that the seller is not bankrupt. If they are, they are not entitled to sell the property.

 Contact us

If you want to buy or sell your home, our Residential Team here at Marsden Rawsthorn can help.

You can contact our expert solicitors on 01772 799600 no matter whether you’re nearer to our Fulwood or Buckshaw office.


Article by Jenni Shoreman

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