Robert Williams Estate Agents, Exeter
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A: Searches are a vitally important part of the conveyancing process. They are basically a series of checks made by the buyer’s solicitor to ensure that everything about the property is as it should be, so their client’s purchase can proceed without complication. Or indeed that any complications are ironed out, if possible, before the transaction can complete. Searches are an outside expense and therefore must be paid to the solicitor upfront.
There are four main types of searches:
1. Local searches. These are commissioned from the Local Authority and check things like planning applications and major changes in the infrastructure nearby; things that may affect the area and might influence your decision on buying that particular property.
2. Environmental and specialist searches. The Environmental search investigates any previous uses of the land to ascertain whether there is likely to be any contamination to the surrounding environment or threat to the property, including areas prone to flooding. Specialist searches tend to differ in different parts of the country, for example, in old mining territories or where there has previously been some sort of industry, higher levels of radon gas or Chancel Repair liabilities.
3. Land Registry searches. These provide all the necessary ownership information about a property and give details of the boundaries and any restricted covenants, as well as revealing any whether there are any debts outstanding on it or anything else of concern.
4. And finally, the Water & Drainage searches, which give information on how water is supplied to the property and details of the drainage and any public sewers that flow through the boundaries. These details may affect any intentions to extend, for example.
Delays can occur for any number of reasons. For example, although Local Authority data is being digitized, the process won’t be fully complete until 2025 so many searches still require the attention of council staff and as a result, local search times can vary enormously from one area to another.
There is of course also the possibility that the results of the searches could flag up issues that need attention before solicitors are satisfied the transaction can progress. The way forward will greatly depend on the nature of the issues, but solicitors deal with these things all the time and will advise accordingly.
We have years of experience with home sales as well as specialist sales progressors within our team. For more advice on searches or any other property-related matter, give us a call on 01392 204800.


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