Lauren Power, Associate Solicitor discusses the issue.
This is a question that many cash buyers often ask me at the start of a conveyancing transaction and particularly those who are familiar with the local area within which they are buying. The first point to note is that a full set of property searches is compulsory for clients who are buying with the aid of a mortgage as it is a requirement of the lender that all search results are returned prior to exchange of contracts. Therefore, for many clients, this is not something which they have to consider.
However, those clients who are fortunate enough to be in a position whereby they are not reliant on a mortgage do have a choice to make – to search or not to search so to speak.
If a cash buyer is wanting to proceed with a transaction quickly then it is easy to bypass the searches stage of the process to save a few hundred pounds with full searches costing in the region of £200-£250.
A key consideration for cash buyers is also how much quicker they can proceed by eliminating the wait for search results. Whilst this is a fair point, search providers are becoming quicker at producing results and any cash buyer must take this into consideration as once completion has taken place, they cannot then back track and obtain search results.
So, what are property searches?
Typically, a solicitor will carry out three main searches of the intended property:
- Local Search
- Drainage and Water Search
- Environmental Search
We at Rowlinsons Solicitors also commission a Chancel Search and a Mining Search (where necessary) for the added benefit of our clients.
A Local Authority Search will seek to obtain key information such as whether the roads are adopted, what planning and building regulations entries are noted against the property and whether there are any public rights of way through the property to name a few. Often the Local Search result does highlight information that a buyer would not necessarily be aware of. Similarly, the Drainage and Water Search result reveals whether foul and surface water drain to a public sewer and provides plans showing the approximate location of any public drains or sewers. Surely, a prudent buyer would want to know whether the property has been built over a public sewer or if there is one located within the boundary of the property, especially if any building works are intended in the future. The Environmental Search results will address a key element as to whether the property has been built upon contaminated land, any issues of flooding and a whole host of other environmental factors will also be looked at.
The content of the search results can certainly impact upon a buyers decision as to whether they proceed with the purchase of the property, whether a lender would be prepared to lend on the property now or in the future and also may necessitate additional questions to be raised with the seller’s solicitor.
It is always our advice that full search results are obtained against the property as it may be that something is revealed in a search that could affect the value of the property or even cause issues on selling the property in the future. After completion, it is too late to raise any issues with the seller if they could have been revealed in a search result, so it is a great risk to take. As the old saying goes, hindsight is a wonderful thing.