Searches are standard enquiries raised by the buyer's solicitor with local authorities - for example, the local council and water authority.
Conveyancing searches deal only with the legal aspects of the your purchase - so it's important to understand that, unlike surveys, they won't provide any information on the physical condition of the property you are buying.
Searches provide important information regarding the legal status of your new home; for example, whether it is subject to any planning enforcement notices.
Without the correct searches being carried out, you could face serious problems with your property in future.
If you are a cash purchaser, you are entitled to proceed without searches being carried out, though it’s not advisable.
If you are buying with a mortgage, conveyancing searches will be a requirement, though in some circumstances, a lender may accept indemnity insurance as an alternative.
But insurance will only cover any loss of value to a property, or any essential expenses, resulting from something which would have been revealed had a search been carried out. It does not prevent any action being taken and does not provide compensation for any resultant inconvenience.
Costs vary depending on area and local authority, or service provider. But you should expect to pay between £100 - £300 for all the searches required for an average residential property.
This depends on the location of the property. All properties should have a local authority search. In addition, some conveyancers will carry out a drainage and water search, and an environmental search.
Depending on the location, different types of mining searches might also be required. If the property is next to a river, then perhaps a British Waterways search should be considered.
An environmental search looks at past uses of the land to try and establish whether it has ever been used for a purpose which could have contaminated the land.
The local authority search of records, includes planning, building regulations consents, and proposed road schemes (within 200 meters of the property). It is a search of the subject property only, and does not cover neighbouring properties, so for an example it would not reveal planning applications relating to properties or land in the area.
The local authority search (above) relates only to the specific property searched. The planning search will confirm applications and permissions in the surrounding area.
This is a search of the water authority's records to check whether the property is connected to mains drainage and to the mains water supply.
A mining search will establish whether the property is at risk from subsidence caused by old mine workings
If you are buying a property close to a river or other waterway, this kind of search looks into records relating waterways (rivers, canals, streams etc), which will reveal such things as ownership of and responsibility for the riverbank, fishing and mooring rights, licences to extract water and drainage rights.