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Property searches – the next steps

An expert in property law has revealed why the searches carried out while a property is being purchased are so important.

During a property purchase, various searches are carried out, particularly where a mortgage is involved. These can include a local search, water and drainage search, environmental search and flood search.

This process can take anything from a few days to a number of weeks, but there is often more work to be done once the results are received.

For instance, following the results of a flood search, a lawyer will look for a ‘passed’ certificate and if there is any significant risk of flooding highlighted will raise further enquiries. An environmental search will highlight whether a property falls within an area with a contamination risk.

Nicole Chrisham, solicitor in the Residential Conveyancing team at regional law firm Napthens, explained: “When searches are received by a solicitor, it doesn’t mean the job is finished. Solicitors will then carry out a range of checks to ensure the searches show what is expected, and if there is anything unexpected highlighted which needs to be dealt with.

“A water and drainage search, for instance, can take a couple of weeks to be received and will check whether the property is connected to mains drainage and water systems. New builds may not be connected until an estate is complete, with an agreement in place from the developer to connect properties at this point.

“A local search is usually the last to be received, and will usually contain a vast amount of information from whether a road is adopted to planning permissions and building regulations to tree preservation orders and if the property is listed.

“In the majority of cases, no major concerns are highlighted within the search results. If issues are revealed then it is the responsibility of the lawyer to raise questions with the seller’s lawyer and in some matters, rectify the issues raised.

“Sometimes, all it takes is an email to the authority requesting an entry be removed from the search but, sometimes, lengthy investigations have to be undertaken to ensure that the buyers and their mortgage lenders will be protected.

“It’s important to be aware that this process is an important one and can take some time but is necessary to protect all parties.”

Nicole Chrisham - solicitor - Residential Property