A guide to searches when buying a residential property in the UK

When buying a residential property in Southend-on-Sea, there are a number of searches that should be undertaken by your solicitor prior to exchanging contracts. The following article explains which searches take place and why the results may be of interest to anyone buying a residential property for sale in Southend.

If you’re planning to use a mortgage to fund the purchase of a property, your lender will require a Local Land Charges Search, enquiries of the Local Authority and for standard water and drainage enquiries to be made. It is usual practice for other additional searches to be carried out which are specific to a particular property. These take into account potential issues such as location, contaminated land or history of flooding.

1. Local land charges search

All local authorities, including Southend Borough Council, are bound by statute to keep a register of certain matters. This register is open to the public for inspection and search results will reveal any entries against a property and if so, how many. Such entries might include;

  • Planning permission granted
  • Any restrictions on permitted development
  • Tree preservation orders
  • Some compulsory purchase orders
  • Financial charges

If any financial charges are revealed, the seller will be asked to discharge these prior to completion or to reduce the purchase price accordingly. If not, the buyer will purchase subject to these charges and they may take on responsibility for any repayments due.

2. Enquiries of the Local Authority

Local authorities keep vast quantities of information which extends beyond the confines of the local land charges register. Results of an enquiry requested of the local authority will help a buyer to build a better picture of the property they are planning to purchase. Examples of issues which could be revealed by a search are:

  • Planning permission applications (this will include those that are granted, refused and withdrawn)
  • Enforcement notices and whether they have been complied with
  • Tree preservation orders
  • Compulsory purchase orders
  • Any notices served in relation to the remediation of contaminated land
  • Whether the roads serving the property are maintained at the public expense

Again any buyer would be bound by matters revealed once the property is purchased and as such it is important to have this information before committing to an exchange of contracts. Any professional Estate Agent in Southend will be happy to liaise with solicitors on your behalf should areas of concern arise relating to search results.

3. Water and drainage enquiries

These enquiries will confirm whether the property has drainage to a public sewer; is connected to the public water supply and show the location of any water mains within the boundaries of the property. This last point is important for would-be purchasers because it may restrict any future development of the property.

4. Environmental search

We all know the public has become increasingly aware of environmental issues in recent years. Solicitors now have to consider whether contamination is an issue in every transaction and advise clients of any potential liabilities. The most important of which is the potential expense of any clean-up liability which could cost considerable sums and in some cases, more than the purchase price of the house.

5. Chancel check report

Chancel repair liability hit the headlines a few years ago. Put simply, the cost of repairing the chancel of a parish church is usually met by the church. However, in some rare instances, local property owners may be liable for the costs of such a repair. A chancel check report is a low cost option that identifies whether a property is located in an area with a potential chancel repair liability. If the property is identified as being located in such an area then further enquiries can be made and if necessary appropriate insurance be arranged.

6. Flooding search

Again this type of search has become increasingly relevant due to the more frequent and extreme floods that have affected the UK in recent years. As Estate Agents in Southend, we know all too well how flooding has had an impact on property for sale in the Southend area. It is estimated that some two million homes and businesses are at risk of flooding in England and Wales. A search can be carried out which provides further information on the risks of natural flooding at a property. The results allow any necessary enquiries to take place before exchange of contracts, for example, to check that insurance can be obtained.

While this article does not cover every eventuality, it should help to explain the usual searches undertaken when buying a property and what they can reveal. As a trusted and reputable Estate Agency in Southend, Pace always recommends searches are undertaken in every property purchase, whether or not you are taking out a mortgage.

lettings agent southend on sea - crystal horwood

Crystal joined Pace in 2007 and was appointed to her current role of Managing Director in 2010, heading up the company founded by her father in 1994.

She is responsible for the daily operations of the business, whilst also ensuring the company is financially sound, has strategic direction and is planning for future growth.

Crystal takes a thoughtful and considered approach to all that she does, transferring her determination to deliver implicit care, attention and professionalism to every member of her team.

Pace employ 20 full time staff. Meet the key team members here.