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Conveyancing and Property Searches Guide

A property is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. Before you part with hard-earned savings and take out a mortgage, you must ensure the property is a secure purchase without any legal, safety or environmental issues that could significantly devalue the property. To uncover this information, you should pay for conveyancing services.

Discover what conveyancing and property searches are used for and how they can affect a mortgage application in this guide.

What are conveyancing property searches?

Conveyancing property searches are completed as due diligence before agreeing to purchase a property. These searches look for potential issues to do with the property’s legal ownership, existing debt and a wide range of possible environmental issues. These searches bring to light the dangers of buying a property before it is too late.

Who does the conveyancing?

Any qualified UK solicitor can do the conveyancing required for a property purchase. However, some solicitors specialise in this area with years of experience and are less likely to miss something within their searches.

It is possible for you to complete your own conveyancing property searches without legal support. However, this is not recommended. You could miss something without extensive knowledge and make a big mistake buying the property.

Are searches necessary when buying a house?

It is necessary to have conveyancing work completed to prevent buying an overvalued or even dangerous property. Some mortgage providers are unlikely to give you a mortgage without conveyancing work completed prior.

What searches do you need?

Property conveyancing includes three main types of searches with optional additional searches.

The three searches you need are:

This search makes sure the property has a connected water supply and identifies risks related to sewers and drainage.

The local authority search is the most time-consuming search of them all and can be divided into two parts.

The first part mainly looks for debts attached to the property and makes sure the property hasn’t already breached planning permission that could cause the local authority to order demolition or rebuilding work. It will also look to see if it is a listed building, which may influence the buyer’s renovation plans.

The second part searches to see if the property will be affected by proposed rail and road development projects or if the property is part of contaminated land. It will also look for existing planning decisions and building regulations in the area.

An environmental search looks at how the land was used in the past, which could increase the risk of subsidence, contamination and landslips. If the property is located near rivers or the coast, it will assess the risks of the property flooding over the course of the year.

Optional additional searches include but are not limited to:

  1. Coal mining – conducted when the land was once part or near a quarry or mine. This is to assess the stability of the land.
  2. Chancel repair liability – some property owners within close proximity to churches are liable to the cost of repairing the local church when needed. This search will find out if you would be liable.
  3. Land charges – a search carried out on unregistered land to uncover details of previous ownership. Results may affect your ability to secure a mortgage.

When are searches ordered?

Searches are ordered after getting a mortgage in principle and having your purchasing offer accepted. They should be completed before ordering a property survey. This is because issues identified within the conveyancing are likely to stop you from wanting to buy the property at all, and you therefore don’t want to have already spent money on surveyors.

What to look for in searches

All the findings of conveyancing are important. Some may force you to withdraw your offer, while others may make you adjust your offer based on the information provided. Your solicitor should bring to your attention the main findings of the search and provide a recommendation once their work is completed.

How long do property searches take?

Water, environmental and coal mining searches are completed swiftly in just a couple of days. The local authority search includes more work and can take anywhere between two to six weeks on average.

How much do searches cost?

Conveyancing searches can cost anywhere from £200 to £1,000+ depending on the experience of the solicitor you use in this area and based on how many additional searches are recommended to you.

Of course, if you do it yourself it will not cost you anything aside from your time - or it could cost you thousands as you make a mistake buying a property you should have avoided.

How do searches and conveyancing affect your mortgage?

The findings of conveyancing need to be reported to your planned mortgage provider. The lender could turn around and refuse your mortgage if the searches have identified major problems buying the property. This is a sign that you shouldn’t be buying the property in the first place.

For further help understanding the importance of conveyancing and property searches, do not hesitate to speak with the friendly Moneysprite mortgage team.

If you need help with your mortgage, call us today: 0345 450 4660

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