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What Are Searches & What is a Survey?

searches survey property

Buyer Beware applies to your property purchase and you must obtain searches, survey and inspect the property. You should also raise relevant enquiries via your Conveyancer and instruct an expert to check things like the electrics and heating.

Your Conveyancer will arrange your searches to check connection to water mains, drains and confirm highway adoption and other things.

Searches will also coinfirm, for example, whether there are financial charges or council grants to repay or if the property is subject to a compulsory purchase order.

It is not the seller’s responsibility to ensure that everything is okay. But they should not misrepresent the situation when asked. It is always advisable to get these confirmations in writing through your Conveyancer.

On completion you take the property subject to any title defects, faults or repairs. You are liable. The seller is NOT (unless you can prove a misrepresentation and you have suffered a loss). To avoid problems after completion you must investigate and searches are part of this.


Your Conveyancer orders searches on your behalf and you pay for these. Usually a Local, Water & Drainage, Flooding & Environmental Search. In Wales a Coal Mining Search is often needed.

  • Local searches reveal council held information such as road adoption, financial charges against the property, planning and building regulations (or lack of).

  • Environmental searches reveal if the property is built on contaminated land. Where land is contaminated, it is the landowner's responsibility to remediate / resolve this and not the person who caused the contamination

  • Water and drainage searches indicate whether the property is connected to the water mains and sewers and whether the property is built over any sewers which could result in access issues to repair them.

  • Flooding searches indicate if the property is at a high risk of flooding as clearly this would be detrimental to your enjoyment of the property.

  • Coal mining searches reveal whether there are historic mines in proximity. If so, the property could potentially suffer from subsidence affecting property value and causing damage.


Your Conveyancer has nothing to do with arranging your survey. This is your responsibility.

It is against advice to proceed without a survey as this will reveal the physical condition of the property. It should be carried out by a RICS Chartered Surveyor who is an expert in their field. A simple web search will reveal Surveyors in your area.

Your Conveyancer has no involvement in checking the physical condition of the property. They will NOT visit the property. Your Conveyancer's responsibility is in checking the legal title.

However, your survey may reveal issues which your Conveyancer needs to be aware of so that they can raise appropriate enquiries with the seller's solicitors.

Your Conveyancer is relying upon you to tell them about any alterations or physical issues such as whether you need a right-of-way over a piece of land used to access the property. Land that is not public highway for example.

Where the property has a shared driveway or private access road you should tell your Conveyancer so they can check that you have the rights you need or raise enquiries.


Your mortgage lender will want their own valuation to ensure the property is sufficient security for their mortgage.

It is not recommended that you rely on a lender’s valuation as they are not detailed and are obtained for the lender’s benefit.

They can be desktop or drive-by valuations with very little detail. They would not involve a proper check of the physical condition of the property. No conveyancer would advise you to rely on this alone


This is far more detailed and would require a surveyor to attend the property and inspect. They will highlight areas of concern. They will note alterations which required planning or building regulations. They will point out structural issues and concerns which could devalue the property. They have professional insurance cover you can rely upon later.

It is recommended that you obtain a homebuyer survey as a minimum.

A homebuyer survey will include a section regarding legal issues to refer to your Conveyancer.

It may reveal a potential right-of-way issue or recommend your Conveyancer checks that relevant planning permission and or buildings regulations are available for alterations.

It is impossible to cover all potential issues so please bear in mind that this is very general guidance only.


Acting for anyone Buying, Selling or Remortgaging In England or  Wales

I am a:

• Solicitor of 23+ years

• SRA & CQS Regulated

• Help to Buy Accredited

• Recommended - Trustpilot &

Instruct me for your:

• Transfer of names on deeds & mortgage

• Equity Release & Lifetime Mortgages

• Bridging Finance

• Auction Property

• Leasehold matter

• Freehold matter

• Trust Deeds & Declaration of Trusts

• ID1 Forms (HMLR)

• Statutory Declarations

• Independent Legal Advice

• Shared Ownership or Shared Equity

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