Carrying out property searches, or conveyancing searches, is a vital part of the property buying process but why are they important? They not only help you to be sure that your investment is a sound one, but in most cases they are a requirement.

If you are getting a mortgage, then the mortgage lender will require searches to be carried out in order to protect their interest.  The searches will spot any issues which should be investigated and might affect the resale of the property in future. There are certain red flags which can come out of a property search which might make the mortgage company change their mind on whether or not to help fund your purchase.

For cash buyers, having property searches carried out is a matter of choice but they are highly advisable for the same reasons.

The main three conveyancing searches are Local Authority Search, Water and Drainage Search and Environmental Search. They help to pick up potential problems, such as a flooding risk, enforcement notices and whether an extension has been built over a drain.

Conveyancers will thoroughly read the property searches which are appropriate for the property, however they wouldn’t normally carry out a visual inspection, so it’s important that the potential buyer makes their conveyancing solicitor aware of anything which they spot, too.


What property searches do

Each property search has its own different importance as the aim is to highlight all the things which might affect the value of a property.

Local Authority Search

This provides the history of the property in Local Authority records and details of any works that have been carried out with planning permission or under building regulations. It also looks into whether the road is adopted by the Local Authority and affected by any other matters, such as a smoke control or tree preservation order, as well as looking into whether the property is affected by radon gas.  It can also reveal enforcement notices for works that are not up to the Council’s standard and whether there are any traffic measures to consider.

Water and Drainage Search

This search identifies if the property is connected to foul water and surface water drainage and the main water supply. It highlights if a property is connected to a water meter or is subject to a buildover agreement and includes plans of the drains and sewers – which are useful for anyone planning any building work on the property they are buying.

Environmental Search

These property searches confirm whether a property is built on contaminated land or if there are any energy of infrastructure measures close to the property.  It can also reveal if there are any planning applications in the vicinity of the property and whether there is a flood risk. Further investigation may be required into the seriousness of the issue and whether it affects the value and the result will have to be reported to any mortgage lender.

Why are property searches so important

As you can see from what is identified in a property search, this can mean the difference between whether it’s safe to buy a property or not – because of this, they are worth their weight in gold.

Imagine making such a large investment as buying a property without searches, only to find out when you go to resell it, that your buyer’s property searches have highlighted problems which cause them to reduce the price.  Or withdraw altogether.

Or worse, once you’re in the property, you find yourself falling victim to the issue, such as a home which regularly floods and causes extensive damage to the contents, or the water board wants access to a pipe under your extension floor and they rip it up in the process. 

If you’re looking to buy a property and are looking for an experienced conveyancing solicitor who will carry out effective property searches, among other services, get in touch with us today on 01243 823090 (Bognor Regis) / 01903 947947 (Steyning) to see how we can help.