When buying a property your conveyancer will offer you various searches.  If you are purchasing with mortgage finance some of these will be essential to satisfy your lender’s requirements.  Others will be recommended based on particular issues or risks affecting the area within which the property is located.

Conveyancing searches are crucial because they provide information about a property and the surrounding area that may not be visible when you view it. Below is an overview of the most common searches:

Local Authority Search

There are two types of Local Authority Search available; official searches that are undertaken by the local authority itself and personal searches that are carried out by a search agent visiting the local authority’s offices.  In the event that mistakes in an official search result in you incurring a financial loss, your claim for compensation would be against the local authority that produced the search.  Personal searches are insurance backed; in the event that mistakes in a personal search result in you incurring a financial loss, your claim for compensation would be against the search provider’s insurer.

Official searches are usually more expensive and take longer than personal searches but there are still some lenders that will not accept personal searches.  Your conveyancer will check this with your lender; it is therefore important to let your conveyancer know as early as possible from which lender you will be getting mortgage finance.

The search contains information on the following:

  • Local Land Charges entries
  • Planning applications and the decisions for the property.
  • Building Regulations approvals and notifications for the property.
  • Enforcement Notices – planning, environmental etc.
  • Adoption of roads abutting the boundaries of the property.
  • Nearby road, rail and traffic schemes.
  • Any restrictions that are in place on redevelopment – listed building status, greenbelt, conservation area etc.

Local Authority Searches are based on a set of standard enquiries but there are optional additional enquiries for matter such as public paths, common land, flood defences etc.  If you have any particular issues about which you are concerned, please discuss these with your conveyancer so that they can ensure the search request they submit includes all relevant questions.

Drainage & Water Enquiry

Just like with Local Authority Searches, it is possible to obtain official and personal searches.  Unless specifically requested, we will always instruct an official search from the water supplier in the area the purchase property is located as these are the most comprehensive.

The Drainage & Water Enquiry will confirm who is responsible for the supply of drainage and water services to the property, as well as who bills for these services.  It will also provide plans showing the location of the nearest mains sewers and water supply pipes to the property.  If any of these run through the boundaries of the property your conveyancer will provide you with specific advice on this issue.

The search will also provide an assessment by the supplier of the water hardness in the property area and the location of the nearest sewage treatment plant.

Environmental Search

Environmental Searches provide information on topics not covered by Local Authority searches. They will identify risks within 250 meters of the property, such as flooding, subsidence, landfill, commercial uses and potentially contaminated sites.

There are various environmental searches available, some of which include the additional information that would usually be contained in other separate searches such as:

Flood Searches

Flood searches use computer-generated models as well real data to provide a detailed assessment of the flood risk for individual properties. If the property is within an area at risk of flooding, a flood report is vitally important when considering your ability to obtain suitable insurance.

Energy & Infrastructure Search

An Energy & Infrastructure report indicates if a property or site is likely to be impacted by the following development projects:

  • High Speed 2(HS2) rail network and Crossrail phase 1

  • Existing, planned and proposed renewable energy projects such and wind and solar farms

  • Oil and Gas Exploration blocks and drilling locations. including areas licensed for hydraulic fracturing (fracking)

  • Yorkshire and Humber Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Cross Country Pipeline

  • Renewable Energy plants including Anaerobic Digestion; Biomass; Heat Pumps; Landfill Gas; Municipal Solid Waste Combustion

Planning Search

The Local Authority search will only provide planning information about the property you are purchasing.  A planning search will look at the planning applications that have been submitted, refused and approved within a 250 meter radius of the property.  This can then assist you in determining whether they are likely to have an impact upon your new property or whether you can use them as precedents if you intend to redevelop your new property.

Mining Search

If a property is located in an area of previous or current mining activity, whether it be coal, tin or brine, a mining search will be necessary to ensure that the property is not within the potential zone of influence of any former workings.

If you are purchasing a property and need conveyancing searches completed or if you need more information about the process of buying a property please get in touch with Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.