08 Aug, 2023/ by Homeward Legal /First Time Buyer, News

If you've gone through the lengthy and stressful process of buying a home, you will no doubt have commissioned a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal side of things on your behalf. This is by far the better option rather than trying to do it yourself - unless you're a trained conveyancing solicitor yourself, of course!

But, if you're not and you decide to perform the various essential legal tasks on your own (usually in the mistaken belief that you will save money steering this course), you'll find a huge amount of work that needs to be done, if you are going to get results that help in understanding the property, as well as a potential mountain to climb in understanding the legal jargon that's used on these occasions.

One of the terms that sometimes causes confusion is “conveyancing searches” (or often “property searches”).

Searches are one of the first tasks that your solicitor will activate as soon as they are instructed by you to act on your behalf in buying a property. The high-level purpose of these searches is to ensure that there is nothing current, or likely to come up in the near future with the prospective home, that is likely to become a problem. 

This is designed to ensure that you have all the information to make an informed and cogent decision on going ahead with the purchase, and that you are not saddled with a property that will be difficult or impossible to sell in the future (unless that is part of your plan, of course, to take on a problematic property).

There are four main searches that a conveyancer will request as standard:

  1. The Land Registry search
  2. Local Authority searches
  3. Water and drainage searches
  4. Environmental searches

Local Authority searches

This suite of searches is probably the most important from your point of view as it is there to check if there are any potential issues that might impact the property now or in the future that could make it undesirable in some way.

The first and most obvious point is whether there are any planning issues, such as a neighbour's extension which might create a problem with privacy, sightlines, or cutting out sunlight and so on. Or there might be a planned building in the vicinity which might have an impact on traffic passing the new home.

Similarly, there may be plans for road-widening, traffic-calming, speed restrictions, rail lines and a number of other traffic-related plans that might have an impact on the property with respect to pollution, noise and increased transport circulation.

Then there are the restrictions that are going to be imposed on any work you might be planning on completion or moving in, or at some point in the future if the property is in a conservation area or if the building is listed. You'll also need to know if any of the trees on your property (and even adjacent on it, where branches come over into your new garden) are subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), which means you can't cut branches, cut it down or damage it in any way without prior written consent from the local authority.

Whatever is a potential issue will be unearthed by your conveyancing solicitor to give you all the facts on which to base your decision on moving forwards or not.

Water and drainage searches

It would be an easy assumption to make, even in an urban area, that the property is connected to a public sewer and water supply network. This set of searches is designed to confirm that that is the case, or, if not, what is in place to achieve the desired purpose otherwise.

Where a property is connected to the public amenities, the search will also define where the public sewer and where the drainage is sited on the property.

One of the problems with increased building is the potential strain on the water provision and sewerage processing, particularly as many areas are struggling with a Victorian system that was not designed to cope with the number of properties feeding into it. 

These searches will also highlight whether any planned extensions or extensive renovations will require permission from the local water company before starting.

Environmental searches

With the near-cataclysmic weather events that are occurring on an ever-increasing basis, it is essential to understand what problems there exist currently, plus the history and perhaps a forecast for the future.

Flooding is one of the most widespread issues and this is becoming more frequent as we read new reports, particularly in the winter with flash floods, rivers breaking their banks and so on.

Because of the soil construction, the area may be susceptible to both landslides and subsidence, which is covered in these searches.

The conveyancer will also be able to find out whether the land has been previously contaminated, perhaps by accident or because of previous industry that might have been on or near the site. They will also find out what gas hazards there may exist, as well as highlighting proximity to landfill sites and companies recycling potentially poisonous metals and liquids.

Within this search too comes information of nearby electricity pylons and phone masts.

Other searches

Your conveyancer may suggest that other searches might be appropriate.

For instance, if the planned purchase is in the vicinity of a closed-down mine, they might suggest ordering a coal-mine search to investigate the possibility of tunnels running under the property.

Or they might recommend ordering a more detailed analysis from a professional company regarding flooding (which might have raised serious concern from the Local Authority searches) or the existence of invasive plants (which might have been highlighted to the conveyancer by the surveyorfor further investigation).

These searches will be in addition to the quoted fee, but your conveyancer will discuss the situation with you and advise accordingly.

As you can see, the management of the searches is quite a complex one, which is why it really does need a qualified conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal aspects for you.

And that's where Homeward Legal can really help with affordable but quality conveyancing services!

Homeward Legal will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay (there are some unforeseen items that might arise during the purchase and/or sale (such as extra searches), but the solicitor discusses these and their cost as they come up). 

In addition, to protect the homebuyer further, Homeward Legal operates a ‘no completion, no fee' promise, which ensures that, should the purchase or sale not go through as planned to completion status, no payment is required.

Call  to get your conveyancing quote started, or to discuss any of your concerns with your plans to move.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Homeward Legal's easy-to-use quote generator.

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