There are a number of different types of “Solicitor Search” that every house being sold goes through.
They can often make you feel confused or overwhelmed – we have heard them described as scary and worrying, but more often than not it is simply because they haven’t been explained. So here is our guide as to what each type of “Solicitor Search” means:
Local Authority Property Searches
LA Searches are the important type of search your solicitor will do. The solicitors will look at all information held by the local council for the property, this will include any plans for the house itself, roads nearby and housing plans for the local area. Searches such as this typically take around two weeks to two months depending on the council and will also include information about who is responsible for road and path maintenance for adjoining properties to your own. Costs vary from £60 to £450 in our experience.
Land Registry Searches
The solicitors need to prove that the house seller is the legal owner of the property which you are buying. They do this by checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry, these checks cost a few pounds each and are legally required for ANY land/property sale.
Water Authority Searches
Water Authority Searches establish where your water comes from (mains supply) and whether there are any public drains (for example culverts or sewers) on the property. These aren’t just vital if perhaps you are planning on building work in the future (it may make you think twice about the property and save you money) but it can also highlight potential issues for the future and whether you are responsible for the upkeep of any of these drains.
Environmental Searches are very important to establish if the property you are about to buy is built on a former landfill site, coal mine, near contaminated water, or other potential environmental issues. Lenders can insist on this type of search before offering a mortgage, this is more often the case where the building has had a previous industrial use or is near an industrial site – if this is the case and no searches are done and for example toxic waste is found in the ground later the value of the property may be much less and the property impossible to sell. An environmental search also should show if your home is at risk of flooding, this for many today is the most important part of the environmental search.
Area Specific Searches
Depending on the area you are buying a property in you may find that your mortgage provider or solicitor asks for specific searches – a good example of this would be a coal mine search/report (these ensure your home would not be in danger of falling down a disused mineshaft and your garden isn’t likely to collapse etc). There are other types of search too, these are often much quicker than the above searches.
Chancel Repair Search
We should stress this is an optional search. Chancel repair searches establish if you will be liable for the cost of repairs to a parish church. They cost around just a few pounds to run but can save you a lot of money in the long run. We’ve not gone into much detail here as they affect so few properties, if you are interested in them do ask your solicitor, they aren’t particularly complicated.