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What are ‘Searches’ when buying a house?

Property searches

‘Searches’ or ‘property searches’ are completed by your solicitor. They work with the local authority (and other organisations) as part of the home buying process. They use these to find out any information about the property. As well as any local development plans that may affect the home you plan to purchase.

9 of the main searches that are often carried out are:

1. Local authority search (LAS): This search finds out information on any nearby road schemes, contaminations, or planning works as well as several smaller searches.

2. Planning search: Planning searches look for details of any existing planning consents or planning applications within a 250-metre radius of a property.

3. Drainage and water search: This search is to find out where all the drainage systems are around a property and show if these are at risk of affecting the property in the future.

4. Environmental search: These look at issues such as flood risk, subsidence risk, previous uses of land and cover you for environmental issues within 500 metres of the house.

5. Flood risk search: If the property you want to buy is near to water. For example; a river, lake, reservoir or coastline, then this search will reveal how high the risk of flooding is in the area.

6. Coal mining and mining searches: Old tunnels may run beneath a property. This is common if it is in an area that was once used for coal, brine or salt mining. These old tunnels can put a property at risk of subsidence. So it’s really important to know what lies beneath a property before buying.

7. Chancel repair search: Most people don’t even know that certain properties have a liability to the local parish for church for repairs, so this search will check that out. It usually depends on the historic standing of the property and the parish itself. You can generally buy insurance to cover you for any such future bills.

8. Land registry pre-completion search: This search will reveal if the individual selling the property is the legitimate owner of the property and if any bankruptcy has taken place. It ensures that the property is legally safe to buy.

And a relatively new search is our number 9…

9. High-speed rail (HS2): HS2 is the new high-speed railway of which phase 1 due to open in less than 8 years. The railway will link London, Birmingham and the north-west with trains travelling up to 225mph. This search will check if the property you’re interested in is affected by the planned and extensive works which will cover 25 destinations and serve over 30 million people.