When you buy or remortgage a property, your Solicitor will require a lot of information before they can give you any advice.

The legal documentation provided by the Seller’s Solicitor needs to be considered and further information requested where appropriate.  Ordering your searches will be the next step in the process, to give you further information about the property you are hoping to buy.

There are four searches usually undertaken on every residential property purchase and the cost of these will be detailed on the quotation you receive from your Solicitor. All lenders will insist that searches are carried out or a “no search” indemnity insurance could be put in place. We would recommend that you have searches done so that you gain as much information about the property as possible before you part with your money. You will only be able to decide not to have searches if you are cash buyer.

The main searches are:

  1. A Local Authority search. The Council will hold all sorts of information about properties in their area, so the main search will be done with the Local Authority. It will show the adoption of public highways, details of planning applications and any outstanding charges. The search is done on the property you are buying so if you want to check matters concerning neighbouring homes, you need to do a different search.
  1. A water and drainage search is carried out to ensure the property has a water supply and is connected to the public sewers. It will also reveal if there are any sewers or private drains/ pipes running through the property that might affect alterations you wish to make or have been made, and who deals with the water supply and billing.
  1. Coal Mining Search. It is important to know whether mining activity has caused any problems with ground stability and if there are any shafts within the locality. If there are, it might be necessary to have a Mine Shaft Entry Report carried out to check they have been dealt with appropriately.
  1. Environmental and Flooding Search. If the land underneath your property is deemed as being contaminated (even from matters that happened a long time ago) then you, as the property owner would be responsible for the cost of the clean up. The environmental search provides you with a certificate, indicating a level of risk. It will be sent to you to consider with a surveyor, if necessary, and decide what steps need to be taken before you proceed with the purchase. Environmental searches will also advise of any potential flood risk, and whether the property could be affected by any other environmental factors, i.e. solar wind farms or fracking licences nearby.

Other common searches that may need to be carried out depend on the location of the property, but can include:

  1. A commons land search, which gives you details of any local common land or village greens.
  2. A Cheshire brine extraction or Cornish mining search, if you are buying in either of these areas.

Once your Solicitor has the results of the searches, a report detailing any action that needs to be taken based on the searches and making you aware of any issues will be sent to you. Your Solicitor will raise any additional enquiries with the Seller’s Solicitor to find out more information, should there be any issues in the search results.

At Alfred Newton Solicitors we can discuss your requirements regarding any aspect of your property transaction. We have 5 offices throughout Stockport, Cheshire and Tameside. Contact us on 0161 338 2135.

Amy Dickens, Solicitor