When buying a house, the onus is on you to ensure that everything is in order before you complete your purchase. Therefore, it is important that you are thorough in your searches so that you get as much information as possible.
This prevents any unpleasant surprises once you have purchased the property. If you want a professional to carry out these searches, then a conveyancing specialist will be able to do them all for you.
Here are some searches that you should carry out before committing to purchase your property.
The Local Authority
The local authority provides all relevant information regarding infrastructure, zoning and planning restriction of the area in which your property is located. Here is an example; the search may show that the property is in a conservation area, near planned major works or tube lines.
Some of these matters may affect your enjoyment of the property once you purchase it. For example, some zones such as conservation areas have restrictions on what structures you can put up in the area. You may be restricted to making a few building alterations. Proximity to a railway tube or a major road may expose the property to disturbance, making it less desirable.
A coal-mining search reveals whether the property in question is situated in an area impacted by coal mining. The search helps you determine whether there has been any coal mining activity in the past, present or anticipated in the future. You will also learn of the existence of any mine entries or underground coal workings. The existence of such may cause subsidence problems.
If a coalmine exists, it is important to determine if there had been any claims for compensation due to subsidence made and if the claims were paid out. In cases where such claims were paid out, there may not be further payments even if subsidence continues to a problem in the area.
Water and Drainage
A search for drainage and water shows if the property in question is connected to the main water supply and municipal sewerage line. It also enables you to determine if there are underground water of sewerage lines that may be running through your property. This is important since such lines may cause damage they burst. On the other hand, you are able to know if surface runoff water drains into a public system.
You should carry out a search to determine if your property borders on the village green or common land. Any land that is registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965 should not be developed. You can carry the search as an optional inquiry under the CON 290 Optional Enquiries of Local Authority. This search should be carried on any agricultural land before purchase.
It is important that you check if the area within which your property is located is safe or contaminated. While lenders do not require environmental search during the appraisal process, it is not any less important. It is good to be aware of any environmental hazards that may have an impact on the quality of your life or make your lender back down.
For example, if the property is near a landfill, the land and air may be contaminated by the waste around it. If the land within which the building sits is contaminated, it may take some significant amounts to clean it up.
You should carry a search against the title of the land. It would determine if the land is registered and if there are bankruptcy proceedings against the holder of the title. The search will also reveal all information concerning incumbrances over the property such as estate contracts, restrictive home rights and other covenants as well as unpaid mortgages.
Chancel Repair Liability
If the property in question is located close to a church, it is important that carry out the chancel repair liability. Sometimes the title deed shows if the titleholder has the responsibility. However, this is always not the case. The seller should tell you if such a liability exist as Chancel repairs can be quite costly. If such liability exists, you should then determine whether it is feasible to purchase the property.
Disadvantaged Areas Search
This search is carried out to determine whether the property is located in a disadvantaged area. If it is, you are eligible for relief if the value of your property does not exceed £150,000. You are not required to pay tax on such property except for stamp duty.
Index Map Search
An index map search should always be carried on all unregistered land. It is also important in a land that has more than one title. It will reveal whether the land is registered, or there is a pending registration application.
You may consider taking indemnity insurance instead of carrying out all the searches. However, this is a decision you should make in consultation with your conveyancer. Carrying out searches saves you from the restrictions and costs that may arise from taking the title to the property.