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What Are Searches and Survey?

These form part of the investigation when you purchase property and are necessary if you want to avoid Buyer's remorse.

searches survey property

Buyer Beware applies to every property purchase.



IT MEANS…

That it is a Buyer’s responsibility to obtain searches, survey and inspect the property so you can make an informed decision on whether to proceed. This is how you protect yourself. You should also consider instructing an expert to check things like the electrics and heating.


Lenders will insist on searches being obtained.


Even if you are a cash buyer it is advisable to obtain searches and a survey. You will be taking a huge risk otherwise.


Your Conveyancer will obtain your searches which reveal things like connection to water mains & drains and whether the highway fronting the property is adopted. They will also confirm whether there are financial charges or council grants to repay or if the property is subject to a compulsory purchase order. Search results can take from 7 working days to 6 weeks to arrive. The time taken varies and is dependent on location and search provider.


Your Conveyancer will review your searches and raise any enquiries with the seller's Conveyancer. They will also check that the seller’s replies are satisfactory. No Conveyancer can guarantee the truth of any of the seller’s statements. It is up to a buyer to have these things confirmed by their expert. For example by having the gas or electrics checked and having a survey.


Bear in mind that the seller is NOT required to do anything to the property before sale. For example, Sellers do not need to have the wiring or heating checked for you. Buyers have a survey to check the property condition. The risk is with the buyer.



MISREPRESENTATION

Having said that, the seller must not misrepresent when asked a question, so it is advisable to obtain written confirmation and not rely on verbal statements. If you have specific questions or discussions with the seller you should raise these as enquiries through your Conveyancer to record the responses.


On completion the buyer takes the property subject to any title defects, faults or repairs. The buyer is liable for these costs. The seller is NOT unless the buyer can prove a misrepresentation AND has suffered loss. To avoid problems from completion onwards buyers must investigate and searches are a vital and time-consuming part of this.



ORDERING SEARCHES

Your Conveyancer orders searches on your behalf using your monies on account. These are usually a Local, Water & Drainage, Flooding and Environmental Searches. In Wales an additional Coal Mining Sesrch is needed and in Cornwall a Tin Mining Search.



WHAT DO THEY REVEAL


  • Local searches indicate council maintained information such as road adoption, financial charges registered against the property (which become yours on completion), planning and building regulations (or lack of).


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


  • Water and drainage searches indicate whether the property is connected to the water mains and sewers. It is also important to note whether it is built over any sewers which could result in access issues if repairs are required.


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


  • Coal/Tin mining searches indicate whether there are historic mines in proximity. If so, the property could suffer from subsidence which affects property values and causes damage.



  • Riverside Property. If you own property bordering on a river you should be aware of fishing rights. These are sometimes referred to as Riparian rights. The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales can provide more information. The below leaflet will also assist and covers what you need to know about riverside property and riverside ownership. https://naturalresources.wales/media/680422/living-on-the-edge-final-jan-2017.pdf 


WHO DOES WHAT

Your Conveyancer does not arrange your survey. It is the Buyer’s responsibility to do this at the Buyer’s cost. Your survey 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 recommended Surveyors in your area.


Your Conveyancer has no involvement in checking the physical condition of the property. They will not visit the property. They will only check the legal title and search results and report to you.


There is a section of the Survey for your “Legal Advisor” to consider. Pass this to your Conveyancer so that they can raise appropriate enquiries with the seller’s solicitors.


NB: Your Conveyancer is relying upon you to tell them about any alterations or physical issues such as whether you need a right-of-way to access the property. Where the property has a shared driveway or private access road you should tell your Conveyancer so that they can check that you have the rights you need.



LENDER VALUATION

The lender will want a valuation to ensure the property is sufficient security for their mortgage. This may be drive-by or desk top. Either way they are very limited. It is not possible for you to rely on a lender’s valuation. It is obtained to benefit your lender but it is NOT a survey. Lender valuations contain very little detail and no real inspection. They would not involve a proper check of the physical condition of the property.



HOMEBUYER SURVEY

This is far more detailed and would require a Surveyor to attend the property and physically inspect. They will highlight areas of concern. They will note alterations which needed planning or building regulations. They will point out structural issues and potential right-of-way issues. Basically any concerns which could devalue the property.


Surveyors have professional insurance cover you can rely upon and they are experts in their field. It is recommended that you obtain the most detailed survey you can afford and you should pass a copy to your Conveyancer.


It would be impossible to cover all potential issues in this blog. Please bear in mind that this is very general guidance and cannot be relied upon as I have no knowledge of your specific circumstances.




MY EXPERTISE:

Being a regulated property solicitor acting for parties Buying, Selling or Remortgaging In England or Wales


I am a Solicitor of 23 plus years. I am SRA & CQS regulated and Help to Buy accredited. My reviews speak for themselves. See - Review Solicotors, Trustpilot & Yell.com









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1 Comment


Searches can be organised by the home buyer in the same way a survey can. People don't have to wait for the conveyancer to place the order any more. Conveyancers don't have to take funds and be concerned about when to order. It can be all done by the homebuyer.

Of course, you want to ensure that the supplier is delivering appropriate reports that are CoPSO regulated and Search Code Compliant. But there are real advantages for the Home Buyer and Conveyancer when the client takes some control and participates in progression, saving time in the process for all. Perhaps explore Property Searches Direct for your options as a Home Mover and as a Conveyancer.

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