As we previously discussed in our first conveyancing searches article there are several searches your licensed conveyancer will undertake in their preliminary research on the property you’re purchasing. While these can uncover a great deal of information about the property, your conveyancer may recommend additional searches to check against any unseen risks against the property. For instance, if your property is located in a previous coal mining area or within proximity of the pending HS2 rail project.
Before undertaking any additional searches your property solicitor will be sure to inform you what these searches are and why they are important, as well as the additional cost they will incur. It’s is important to understand that learning as much about the property before you exchange can make a big difference as to find out any surprises beyond that point would cost you a lot of money to walk away from.
So what are these additional searches and what might they tell me?
Canal & river search
If you’re purchasing a property that has a waterway attached to it or within close proximity a waterways search can reveal many things. It’ll tell you things such as rights to access the land to fish, ownership of and responsibility for the riverbank, mooring rights, and licenses to extract water and drain waste.
As the landowner, you may also be expected to maintain the riverbank or even the waterway while on the complete opposite the bank could be owned by the environment agency.
Chancel repair liability search
A chancel repair liability search will check if your property is liable for the repairs to the local parish church. This is something which only applies to landowners in England and Wales and while it’s something that dates back many years ago it’s still in effect.
The liability doesn’t apply to certain properties but the land it sits on, so don’t be fooled into thinking new build properties are excluded.
If the search comes back and says you would be liable you can take out indemnity insurance to protect you from any future risk.
Coal mining & brine search
If you’re buying a property in proximity of a former or existing coal mining site your conveyancer will ensure you have a coal mining search carried out. What’s more, if buying with a mortgage it is compulsory to have this search to understand whether there are any risks to the property and the land around it.
A property close to mining activity could be at risk of hazards including subsidence, however, the search should uncover this information as well as whether or not other houses in the area have made claims.
Commons registration search
A commons registration search may be required if you were buying in a rural area. This search is to check if members of the local community have rights to access the land you’re purchasing.
Also known as a common land search it’ll establish if your pending purchase has been registered as common land under the Commons Registration Act of 1965. If it does it means that certain members of the local community can access the land as a footpath for things including grazing or even to hold a village fete. But don’t worry, land registered as common land also cannot be used by vehicles.
Flood risk report
Unfortunately, flooding has become more of an issue in recent years and while the government has poured money into installing and upgrading flood defences it is still a problem for many.
A flood risk report will help identify the likelihood of whether the property you’re purchasing will suffer from flooding in the future. This, in turn, will indicate whether the home is insurable or whether you’re going to have to pay a higher premium to insure the property than maybe you’d budgeted for.
If you’re still keen to proceed you need to be aware that a high flood risk property could make it harder to sell on in the future as some mortgage lenders wouldn’t risk lending against it.
Land registry pre-completion searches
Contrary to the previous searches we’ve mentioned the land registry pre-completion searches happen after exchange of contracts. These final searches will help establish if anything has changed in your ability to purchase the property or the seller’s ability to sell.
For example, they will perform a bankruptcy search to check if you are or perhaps are in the process of becoming bankrupt. The search typically dates back by five years and checks to ensure that you are indeed creditworthy. Your mortgage lender will want peace of mind that they are loaning money to someone that hasn’t been bankrupt or perhaps has a prior history of not being able to repay loans.
The “OS1 search” or “priority search” would tell a purchaser if the seller had taken on another mortgage or secured loan since the conveyancing process began, or if anything else significant had changed.
Whatever the outcome of your additional search results it’ll pay dividends to know more about the property you’re buying that just what you’ve seen from its facade. This information can help you make an informed decision as to whether you’re happy to continue with the purchase or whether, if there are risks involved, it’s something you should walk away from.
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