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A big part of the conveyancing process is the conveyancing searches. This section tells you all about them. What they are, how and when to order them and how to interpret the results. Each search has its own guide and you'll see they are separated into Standard (should be done in every case), Regional (area specific) and Optional (not essential but often useful tools for the would be purchaser). All buyers should beware that when you buy a property, the law assumes that you have seen the information that would have been revealed by searches whether or not you have actually carried them out, so you buy the property subject to the results.
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What follows are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding conveyancing searches in general. We will then go on to discuss particular types of search individually.
The searches are a set of standard enquiries raised by the purchaser's conveyancer with a particular authority, for example the local search is raised with the local council, the drainage & water search with the water authority etc. Conveyancing searches deal only with the legal aspects of the purchase. They are not surveys and will not give information on the physical condition of the property.
Searches give crucial information regarding the property, for example whether or not the road serving it is a publicly adopted highway, whether there are any mineshafts in the immediate vicinity, whether it is subject to ant planning enforcement notices etc.
Although he would be ill-advised to do so, a cash purchaser is perfectly entitled to proceed without searches being carried out. As an alternative he may wish to purchase indemnity insurance, or simply ignore the issue altogether. If buying with the benefit of a mortgage however, the purchaser is under an obligation to the lender to obtain conveyancing searches. The lender may accept indemnity insurance as an alternative. It should be made very clear to a purchaser however that insurance will only cover any loss of value to a property, or any essential expenses, resulting from something which would have been revealed had a search been carried out. It does not prevent any action being taken and does not provide compensation for any resultant inconvenience.
The cost is far too variable to be discussed here in detail and should be ascertained at the time. Costs vary from area to area, also depending which search agency (if any) is used. As a rough guide a purchaser might expect to pay somewhere between £100 - £300 on searches.
This depends on the location of the property. All properties should have the benefit of a local authority search. In addition some conveyancers will carry out a drainage & water search and perhaps an environmental search as a matter of course. Depending on the geographical location different types of mining searches might also be needed. If the property is next to a canal or river, then perhaps a British Waterways search should be considered. We will discuss the various types of searches in more detail later in this section.
Following is a list of the majority of the conveyancing searches which are available. A chapter dedicated to each type of search can be found using the menu on the left. There are some which are very rare, and though I will list them, the information I can provide may be limited.
Local Authority Search
Coal Mining Search
Commons Registration Search
Chancel Liability Search
Cheshire Brine Search
Tin Mining Search
British Waterways Search
Search of the Index Map(SIM)
China Clay Search
The above list is not entirely exhaustive, there are other types of search available, however those not on the list are sufficiently rare that I have never come across them.
As mentioned above different types of searches are required depending on the location of the property. To see which particular searches should be carried out in your area choose the "searches by geographical location" option from the menu or click on the link previously.