When you’re looking to buy your first property, you’ll have to know all the relevant information about it to help you determine if it fits your budget and needs. This discovery is a process known as conveyancing searches, also known as property searches. A conveyancing solicitor is in charge of carrying out enquiries or investigations with the local authority and other parties as part of the home-buying process.
Conveyancing searches are essential when deciding on a property. Although you may have found love at first sight with a house, it may have a host of issues that can cost you thousands of pounds down the line. Here’s what you need to know about conveyancing searches:
The Enquiries Involved in a Conveyancing Search
The primary searches involved in buying a property are local authorities, environmental, and water. They usually include aspects concerned with planning permission, which is essential for being aware of any future development that may negatively affect your property. It also investigates the quality of the ground on which it was built, along with information on common drains and access rights.
Your conveyancing solicitor must complete and approve these searches before you sign contracts and commit yourself to buy the property. Otherwise, you may be left with planning or structural issues that will adversely impact the property’s value or bring you more unexpected costs over the next few months or years.
The Duration of a Conveyancing Search
As there are over 340 local authorities across the United Kingdom, a conveyancing search can take some time. These authorities also manage enquiries in different ways, resulting in a turnaround time that can take anywhere from 48 hours to multiple weeks.
The way your conveyancing solicitor conducts their searches also plays a crucial role in how fast it is processed. If they receive the results through an online portal or by email, then it will be much quicker than receiving it by post. Busier times can also lead to slower search results.
Local Authority Searches
When a conveyancing solicitor conducts a local authority search, they uncover detailed information about the property and its surrounding areas. It tells you all you need to know about the property, its location, and how future development may impact it. Having this information will help you avoid any unexpected occurrences that may happen when new businesses move in, the economy changes, or other similar transformations.
There are two parts involved in a local authority search. The first one, the LLC1 result, informs you if the property is a listed building, is situated in a conservation area, needs an improvement or renovation grant, or is located in a tree preservation order area.
The second one, the CON29, assesses any future plans that may affect your property. It is further categorised into two parts, one of which is optional and the other is required.
The required results will disclose the following: any contaminated land; building regulations; any proposal for the construction of new roads or traffic schemes; if your property is in a radon affected area; and any planning decisions that will impact your property.
Any information needed by the CON29 can change from time to time, such as road proposals by private entities, land maintenance notices, and pollution notices. The CON29 is in charge of evaluating any changes that may affect your property in any way.
Water and Other Property Searches
First-time buyers must also confirm with the local water company that services the property that they maintain the sewers, drains, and piping. Your conveyancing solicitor will also discover the precise details about the proximity of your property to public sewers. If there is a sewer running through your property’s boundaries, the conveyancing search will also reveal this.
With environmental degradation is becoming a more pressing problem, the UK government has put in extra measures to diminish the impact of human activity on nature. As such, an environmental search is necessary to identify if the previous use of the property contributed to or created an ecological risk. It highlights issues that include subsidence, any chance of flooding from nearby bodies of water, landslips, and contaminated land from historic landfills.
Conveyancing solicitors may also carry out non-routine searches depending on the context and location of the property in question. If the property is in an area of previous or current mining activity, then it may be at risk of resting on unstable ground. As a result, it is essential to conduct a mining search, which is mostly for the benefit of a mortgage lender.
Any property on unregistered land is subject to a search dealing with land charges, as it will reveal any bankruptcy proceedings associated with the land’s owner. It will also uncover any restrictions on the use of the land, mortgages, and estate contracts.
Meanwhile, if you inherit a property or live within the parishes of a church, you might have to chancel repair liability. Repair liability means that you may be required to contribute towards the cost of repairing a church. A conveyancing search is sure to reveal this crucial piece of information, making it even more essential.
If you purchase a property that shares a border with shared land, a town or village green, or is in a rural area, then the Commons Registration Act 1965 recommends a search. Registered lands have protection granted to them, so you’ll want to know if your purchase of a property infringes on any of these rights.
Lastly, your conveyancing solicitor will want to look into disadvantage area relief on your property. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) phased out the disadvantage area relief on Stamp Duty in April 2013, as the relief did not encourage people to buy a property. Suppose anyone purchased a property valued over £125,000 or did not exceed £150,000 up until that date. In that case, they are exempt to Stamp Duty, mainly if they lived in a designated disadvantaged area.
Conveyancing searches are crucial when purchasing a property, especially for first-time buyers. It frequently flags essential details about the property that you may not have taken into consideration, which can affect the quality of living conditions or any maintenance costs during your stay. It is, therefore, crucial to discuss the comprehensive results with your conveyancing solicitor so that you have full knowledge and comprehension of the buying process and the area in which you will reside.
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