Local Searches - Do you really need them?

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Local Searches - Do you really need them?

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When purchasing your new home, the solicitor carrying out the conveyancing will carry out a number of searches on your behalf.

A Local Authority search is just one of the searches which is carried out and can be very helpful. For example if you were buying a new car, you might want to know if the car had been involved in a serious major accident and been rebuilt. Similarly, when buying a house you would want to know if there were plans to build a football ground at the end of the garden!


Is a Local Authority search really essential?

Yes, a Local Authority search is essential if you do not want to have any unpleasant surprises once you have moved into your new home. Using the car analogy, you would not want to find out after you had purchased a new car that it was defective in some way.

It may be that after receiving the results of the Local Authority searches that you might not wish to proceed with the purchase of your home or you may seek a reduction in the price of your new home.

You should note that if you are taking out a mortgage on your new home, your bank or building society will insist upon a Local Authority search being carried out.

Even if you are buying a property without a mortgage it is important that a Local Authority search is carried out.

The Local Authority search will be carried out at the start of the conveyancing process. In addition, your solicitor will also carry out other searches such as water and drainage, environmental, chancel or repair liability.


What is a Local Authority search?

A Local Authority search provides information about the use of the property you are intending to purchase as well as the responsibility for footpaths and highways etc nearby. If you are intending to purchase a property, you would want to know if there are any plans to build a wind farm, or a supermarket near to where you are intending to purchase.


How much does it cost and who pays?

The purchaser of the property pays and the cost varies depending on the Local Authority. Often, the cost is approximately £100.


How long will it take?

It varies from Local Authority to Local Authority. Usually the results are received within one week but sometimes it can be several weeks before the results are received.


What does the Local Authority search provide?

The results of the Local Authority search will show the following:-

  • Whether roads or footpaths next to the property are publicly maintained or are privately maintained. If they are privately maintained, this may result in additional costs to the purchaser.
  • If there are any plans for any road schemes close to or near to the property which could affect the value of the property. For example, if there was a plan to build a motorway near to the house that you were intending to purchase, this could seriously affect the value of the property.
  • Provide details of any planning decisions affecting the property. For example, it may be that the property has a large brand new conservatory. You would want to be sure that the Local search shows that planning permission was obtained.
  • Whether the property is located in a conservation area.
  • Indicate whether the property is built on contaminated land.
  • Provide information about whether any enforcement notices or violation of planning permission against the property are recorded.

You should note that a Local Authority search does not include a physical search of the actual property.

Any recent planning application submitted after the date of the search will obviously not be included in the search itself.

If you want to know more about Local Searches or conveyancing contact Kate Hunt.