A guide to searches when buying a residential property in the UK

When buying a residential property in Southend-on-Sea, there are a number of searches that should be undertaken by your solicitor prior to exchanging contracts. The following article explains which searches take place and why the results may be of interest to anyone buying a residential property for sale in Southend.

If you’re planning to use a mortgage to fund the purchase of a property, your lender will require a Local Land Charges Search, enquiries of the Local Authority and for standard water and drainage enquiries to be made. It is usual practice for other additional searches to be carried out which are specific to a particular property. These take into account potential issues such as location, contaminated land or history of flooding.

1. Local land charges search

All local authorities, including Southend Borough Council, are bound by statute to keep a register of certain matters. This register is open to the public for inspection and search results will reveal any entries against a property and if so, how many. Such entries might include;

  • Planning permission granted
  • Any restrictions on permitted development
  • Tree preservation orders
  • Some compulsory purchase orders
  • Financial charges

If any financial charges are revealed, the seller will be asked to discharge these prior to completion or to reduce the purchase price accordingly. If not, the buyer will purchase subject to these charges and they may take on responsibility for any repayments due.

2. Enquiries of the Local Authority

Local authorities keep vast quantities of information which extends beyond the confines of the local land charges register. Results of an enquiry requested of the local authority will help a buyer to build a better picture of the property they are planning to purchase. Examples of issues which could be revealed by a search are:

  • Planning permission applications (this will include those that are granted, refused and withdrawn)
  • Enforcement notices and whether they have been complied with
  • Tree preservation orders
  • Compulsory purchase orders
  • Any notices served in relation to the remediation of contaminated land
  • Whether the roads serving the property are maintained at the public expense

Again any buyer would be bound by matters revealed once the property is purchased and as such it is important to have this information before committing to an exchange of contracts. Any professional Estate Agent in Southend will be happy to liaise with solicitors on your behalf should areas of concern arise relating to search results.

3. Water and drainage enquiries

These enquiries will confirm whether the property has drainage to a public sewer; is connected to the public water supply and show the location of any water mains within the boundaries of the property. This last point is important for would-be purchasers because it may restrict any future development of the property.

4. Environmental search

We all know the public has become increasingly aware of environmental issues in recent years. Solicitors now have to consider whether contamination is an issue in every transaction and advise clients of any potential liabilities. The most important of which is the potential expense of any clean-up liability which could cost considerable sums and in some cases, more than the purchase price of the house.

5. Chancel check report

Chancel repair liability hit the headlines a few years ago. Put simply, the cost of repairing the chancel of a parish church is usually met by the church. However, in some rare instances, local property owners may be liable for the costs of such a repair. A chancel check report is a low cost option that identifies whether a property is located in an area with a potential chancel repair liability. If the property is identified as being located in such an area then further enquiries can be made and if necessary appropriate insurance be arranged.

6. Flooding search

Again this type of search has become increasingly relevant due to the more frequent and extreme floods that have affected the UK in recent years. As Estate Agents in Southend, we know all too well how flooding has had an impact on property for sale in the Southend area. It is estimated that some two million homes and businesses are at risk of flooding in England and Wales. A search can be carried out which provides further information on the risks of natural flooding at a property. The results allow any necessary enquiries to take place before exchange of contracts, for example, to check that insurance can be obtained.

While this article does not cover every eventuality, it should help to explain the usual searches undertaken when buying a property and what they can reveal. As a trusted and reputable Estate Agency in Southend, Pace always recommends searches are undertaken in every property purchase, whether or not you are taking out a mortgage.


Crystal joined Pace in 2007 and was appointed to her current role of Managing Director in 2010, heading up the company founded by her father in 1994.

She is responsible for the daily operations of the business, whilst also ensuring the company is financially sound, has strategic direction and is planning for future growth.

Crystal takes a thoughtful and considered approach to all that she does, transferring her determination to deliver implicit care, attention and professionalism to every member of her team.

Pace employ 20 full time staff. Meet the key team members here.


Pace Property Lettings & Management Ltd
   
South Essex Landlords and Property Investor Network
   
No Selective Licensing
   
Pace Sales

 

"I am a landlady with many properties and have dealt with Pace for about 10 years. Marcus is very friendly, honest, efficient and helpful and has made my letting experience extremely easy always finding me suitable tenants. I have nothing but praise for Marcus who has been with Pace many years.

Mary R

After renovating a block of 21 flats to place into our rental portfolio we instructed PACE and gave them two weeks to let all the units on a sole agency basis. They marketed the flats for a week and conducted a strict open house event on the following Sunday for 4 hours. Within this slot 15 flats were let with the remainder let the following week.

The Director of Runwood Homes

As a landlord with multiple HMO properties, I have employed the services of PACE for a number of years now as they ensure I have my required specification of tenant placed in all my rooms. I only let rooms to employed applicants and very much favour their opening hours as this attracts and accommodates the right people.

Johnathon Simons HMO Landlord

Sara is my dedicated property manager and has been for some time. I have always found Sara to be a very professional member of staff. Sara always keeps me informed and provides regular visit reports, which is important for any landlord. Sara deals with any problem that befalls her, contacting me if she needs to. Sara will discuss any problem and invariably come to a solution.

Raymond Durrant – multi property landlord

The staff are always friendly and helpful, my special thanks to Sara, we have built a very special rapport and I feel very comfortable phoning if I need anything. I feel very happy that I have one person to deal with all of my issues.

Evelin Jenkins - Tenant

We cannot stress how much we appreciate having a dedicated property manager for our properties. We live 350 miles away and also spend a great deal of the winter out of the country. To be able to phone our manager who understands our properties and how we operate is for us complete peace of mind.

Peter and Maureen Mason – Multi property landlords

I was extremely thankful I chose PACE to conduct the sale of my property and extremely grateful to Sue Mellor who worked very hard to ensure a smooth transaction. She was most knowledgeable and professional throughout, always reachable and approachable. She was able to answer all the questions I posed.

Yvonne White

I've recently purchased a property with the help of Pace. I found the staff extremely helpful and friendly. My first contact was Katie, she showed me around the property and liaised with the vendor. After, I dealt mostly with Sue Mellor. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. She kept me informed throughout the process and was the first to congratulate me on completion.

Roni Miller

I just thought I'd drop you a line about Adele Moore who is managing my flat. Adele is doing a great job and is a credit to Pace. She has done, and continues to do, exactly what she says she will do and as a customer that is exactly what I want. Adele doesn't take things at face value and investigates things when she needs to, again a thing that clients will prize.

Tony Mihill - Landlord

Thank you to the team at PACE for firstly providing excellent property management services over many years and secondly for helping me to sell my property recently.

All your hard work has been very much appreciated. Special mentions to Sara, Amy, Sue and Billy for their friendly and professional service!

Charlotte, (Property Management & Seller)